Sharon Brown-Hruska, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), on Thursday told a gathering of energy marketing professionals that she believes that the “era of false price reporting will soon be a part of history.”

Brown-Hruska, appearing before the National Energy Marketers Association (NEMA) annual membership meeting in Washington, DC, said that “part of the reason I think it will not be repeated is in part because of our enforcement actions.”

The CFTC in January reached settlements totaling $50 million with six energy trading companies resolving charges that they falsely reported information on natural gas trades to index publishers (see Daily GPI, Jan. 29). Two of the firms also were charged with attempted manipulation of price indexes.

Brown-Hruska also said she wants to “discourage knee-jerk responses” to problems affecting the energy industry. “I want to see an energy bill, but I worry about some of the proposals that I’ve seen over the years” that tilt towards reregulation or increased regulation of the energy sector, and power markets in particular.

FERC Commissioner Nora Brownell told the conference that with or without comprehensive energy legislation, the industry cannot stand pat and wait to see what happens on Capitol Hill. “The bottom line is we need to move forward, whether we have an energy bill or not, and shame on us if we let this be an excuse to kind of sit around and wait to be told what to do.”

She also thinks that “some of the myths are dying” vis a vis the current state of the energy industry. “I think the myth is really dying — and Aug. 14 and the blackout report, which will confirm that — that ‘hey, the system’s perfect.'” The idea that the power grid is perfect “is dead and gone” in the wake of last year’s devastating blackout that hit large swaths of the U.S. and Canada, Brownell said.

“Here’s what we’ve seen just in the last couple of weeks. We’ve seen some real movement on RTO developments,” she said, citing the efforts by Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to obtain RTO status.

“I think we’re seeing price reporting increasing, I think we’re seeing liquidity increasing, and guess what? It didn’t take a rule from the FERC or the CFTC to make that happen.”

Also, the myth that states and federal agencies such as FERC are always going to have an inherent tension “is simply not true,” she said. “I would argue that those who would like to continually pit the federal government and the state governments up against each other aren’t doing so” because of legitimate jurisdictional concerns, but rather in order to protect “their own backyards.”

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