FERC's Office of Enforcement (OE) remained focused "on the significant threat posed by fraud and market manipulation in wholesale energy markets" in fiscal year (FY) 2018, and continued ongoing investigative, audit, surveillance and market oversight responsibilities, according to the 2018 Report on Enforcement released Thursday.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigations staff opened 24 new investigations and closed 23 pending investigations with no action during FY2018, according to the report. Staff negotiated six settlements that resulted in more than $83 million in civil penalties and disgorgement of more than $66 million in unjust profits. The settlements included provisions requiring the subjects to enhance their compliance programs and periodically report back to OE regarding the results of those enhancements.
FERC audits and accounting staff completed 14 audits of oil pipelines, electric utilities and natural gas companies, resulting in 209 recommendations for corrective action and directing refunds and recoveries totaling more than $185 million.
At the same time, market oversight staff continued its analysis of market fundamentals, and enhanced its capabilities for identifying anticompetitive market outcomes and anomalies that may indicate an exercise of market power. Analytics and surveillance staff also reviewed instances of potential misconduct and provided analytical expertise to investigations staff in about 50 investigations, according to the report.
"Unfortunately, in our efforts to protect parties' due process rights, our enforcement program can often seem like a black box to those outside the agency," said Chairman Neil Chatterjee. "I think the annual report we're issuing today helps provide the industries we regulate with critical transparency about our enforcement program. I think it also shows the public that the Commission is proactively monitoring all of our regulated industries to provide confidence in our markets, while also protecting the public interest."
Since 2007, OE staff has negotiated settlements allowing for the recovery of $776 million and total disgorgements of $511 million.