Bingaman on GAO Report on FERC Oversight

Provisions in Senate-Passed Energy Bill Mirror Recommendations

June 18, 2002
12:00 AM
“As we get ready to go into conference, this GAO report should be required reading for all energy conferees, especially since the House-passed energy bill doesn’t include electricity. “The GAO analyzed FERC’s regulatory and oversight approach to energy markets and found that the agency needs to change the way it does business. The report recommends actions that Congress can take to help FERC do a better job of protecting consumers and ensuring that electricity rates are fair. One recommendation is to give FERC more regulatory powers to respond to changing energy markets. Another is to provide FERC with expanded enforcement authority to level civil penalties against market participants that engage in anti-competitive behaviors and violate market rules. “The Senate-passed energy bill addresses these same issues and concerns. The Energy Committee has asked FERC commissioners and others, ‘How should laws be changed to enable the FERC to better execute its responsibilities?’ The answers are all incorporated in our energy bill: expand information disclosure requirements ... repeal PUHCA ... expand the FERC’s merger authority ... increase requirements for merger approvals ... clarify market-based rate authority ... grant authority over reliability ... extend jurisdiction over transmission facilities ... require FTC to promulgate rules to protect consumers from unfair trade practices ... expand the civil and criminal penalty authority under the Federal Power Act. That’s one reason why I’m looking forward to the start of an energy conference and getting a bill to the President.” # # #