The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is tentatively planning to hold an additional technical conference on “Energy Price Discovery and Indices” on Tuesday June 24 to explore “some of the less familiar options such as Self-Regulating Organizations (SROs) and audited data hubs.” An order to that effect was being circulated Thursday for approval by the commissioners.

The conference at FERC’s Washington, DC, headquarters would follow on two earlier sessions (see Daily GPI, April 25) in which the Commission heard testimony from price survey publishers and those advocating other systems. Subsequently, several industry organizations said that while they favored bolstering the current systems, they would like FERC to hold another conference to explore SROs, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, which operates independently under the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Leading the move for further study of SROs were the American Gas Association and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, representing distributors and pipelines, respectively. Producer and end user groups, including the Natural Gas Supply Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Process Gas Consumers, agreed there could be further study of SROs, but the alternative should only be considered if bolstering the current system fails (see Daily GPI, May 16).

A representative from the NASD, an SRO which under federal law registers all securities firms doing business in the United States, appearing at FERC’s April conference, said it could quickly put in place a system to collect and dispense natural gas and power prices

The proposal comes at a time when SROs such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASD have come under fire for failing to adequately monitor the investment industry. The government in April inked a $1.4 billion settlement with 10 large Wall Street firms, ending an investigation that revealed unfair, widespread practices such as publishing bogus stock research to win the investment banking business of companies and rigging the dispersal of initial public offerings of stock.

The NYSE and NASD operate by virtue of federal law which places them in the jurisdiction of the SEC. It would require an act of Congress to authorize FERC to set up an SRO. Meanwhile, in the wake of the scandals in the investment community some members of Congress have questioned whether the current SROs are capable of monitoring the investment market.

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