The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Monday asked Congress to approve a $28 million increase in funding for fiscal year 2008, bringing the agency’s proposed budget for the year to $255.4 million.

The requested 12.4% budget hike, as well as a proposed increase in full-time employees (FTEs), will support the Commission’s reliability and enforcement efforts, as well as its continued implementation of its authorities under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, FERC said. It proposed FTEs of 1,370 for FY2008, up from 1,285 in FY2007, in the budget that was submitted to Congress.

FERC recovers the full cost of its operations through annual charges and filing fees assessed on the energy industries that it regulates, making it perhaps the only federal agency that pays for itself. Its budget still requires the approval of Congress.

The bulk of the funding — $186.7 million — will be spent on promoting the development of energy infrastructure, including new natural gas pipelines, gas storage facilities, liquefied natural gas facilities and hydropower facilities, according to the Commission.

An estimated $40.1 million will be allocated in FY2008, compared to $35.5 million last year, to encourage fair and competitive energy markets and prevent the accumulation and exercise of market power, the agency said. In addition, FERC proposes to spend $28.5 million in FY2008, up from $24.8 million last year, to carry out its oversight and enforcement responsibilities.

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