FERC announced last Wednesday it was launching a broad-based review of its information-collection activities to determine what additional data it will need to bolster its oversight and monitoring of the electricity and natural gas industries. The effort in part is a response to unfavorable General Accounting Office (GAO) reports last year and in 2002, which found the Commission’s oversight and enforcement record to be lax.

The agency has formed “FERC’s 2004 Information Assessment Team” (FIAT) to “advance the ball a bit further” in the data-gathering area, said team leader Virginia Strasser. She noted the team plans to survey Commission staff, other federal and state agencies, and selected energy industry and trade associations in its effort to decide which information is critical to ensure market transparency.

Strasser said the team intends to focus on the electricity industry “at this point,” but she added it may speak to natural gas trade associations as well. Of particular interest will be the Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Supply Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, National Association of Utility Regulatory Commissioners and North American Electric Reliability Council, she noted.

Prior to the August break, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hopes to issue a draft rulemaking that will outline what new information collection and filing requirements will be needed to provide greater market transparency, Strasser said.

She noted the team will propose an implementation plan for “institutionalizing” a continuous FERC-wide review of the agency’s existing and new information collection needs.

In addition, the FIAT team will recommend needed IT support and a data warehousing plan to support the increased information flow, as well as suggest organizational changes.

Commissioner Nora Brownell expressed concern that the team might duplicate the information-collection efforts of other federal agencies. Strasser noted that the team already has decided to talk to the Energy Information Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies to prevent this from happening.

Commissioner Joseph Kelliher raised the possibility that FERC may have to seek additional statutory authority from Congress to carry out a more aggressive information-collection program.

©Copyright 2004 Intelligence Press Inc. Allrights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republishedor redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without priorwritten consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.