FERC “in all likelihood” will hold a technical conference to discuss the results of the surveys on the price-reporting activity of energy companies and the Commission’s interpretation of the results, as well as ask industry to identify the next liquidity issue that the agency should address, said the head of FERC’s Office of Market Oversight and Investigations (OMOI) Wednesday.
“We would expect to turn to that before summer,” OMOI Director William Hederman told energy executives and regulators at a conference sponsored by the National Energy Marketers Association in Washington, DC.
Responses to the FERC price-reporting survey, which was sent to more than 250 natural gas and power companies, were due at the Commission on Wednesday. While the first survey last fall invited “essay answers” about companies’ reporting activity to published price indexes, the agency is going for “more hard data” in the latest survey, Hederman said. FERC staffers are expected to turn in a report on the price-reporting surveys to the full Commission by April 30.
In an effort to step up surveillance of the market, he reported the OMOI will be doing more auditing of regulated energy companies so that consumers will be “more comfortable that the cop is on the beat.” Some of the FERC audits will be targeted to specific issues or companies, while others will be purely random, according to Hederman.
In addition, he said the issue of the increasing interdependence of natural gas and power operations and prices “looms large” at the agency, Specifically, he noted FERC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) were looking into allegations that New England power generators sold natural gas on the spot market in January rather than use the gas for their own power plants during a power supply crunch.
Hederman said the agencies were in “close contact” with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has issued subpoenas to power generators as part of a state investigation into the matter.
He also said FERC was working with the major engineering societies to hold a conference on energy engineering ethics next fall. He believes engineers are the “missing link” on the issue involving physical withholding of capacity and supply.
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