On November 17th, the FERC released its 16th annual report on its enforcement activities, which offers a comprehensive overview of the agency’s accomplishments in 2022 as part of its efforts to ensure that all energy markets are efficient, safe, reliable, and secure. The report includes the FERC’s significant actions, as well as its strategic goals and its guidance to the industry. The report also serves an important function in providing the public and the regulated community with more information regarding the FERC’s Office of Enforcement’s non-public activities.
In 2022, the Office of Enforcement centered on fraud and market manipulation, serious violations of the mandatory reliability standards, anticompetitive conduct, threats to the nation’s energy infrastructure, impacts on the environment and surrounding communities, and conduct that threatens the transparency of regulated markets. This led to 21 new investigations and 11 negotiated settlements, resulting in approximately $57.52 million in civil penalties and disgorgement.
Enforcement activities are conducted by staff in three divisions within the FERC: the Division of Investigations, the Division of Audits and Accounting, and the Division of Analytics and Surveillance. In addition to the outcomes achieved by the Division of Investigations mentioned above, the Division of Audits and Accounting completed 12 audits of public utility, natural gas, oil and regional transmission organization companies, resulting in multiple findings of noncompliance and more than 200 recommendations for corrective action. This led to $158 million in refunds and other recoveries. The staff of this division also examined the timeliness and accuracy of the electric quarterly reports from more than 3,000 entities each quarter and 2,600 annual financial reporting form submissions.
Lastly, the Division of Analytics and Surveillance provided analytical expertise to Investigations staff in approximately 50 investigations in 2022 by investigating evidence of misconduct. Specifically, staff reviewed physical natural gas markets to detect potential manipulation by running automated screens that cover the majority of physical and financial trading hubs, resulting in the identification of market behavior that required further analysis and ultimately producing two referrals for investigation. The staff of this division also examined the 2.5 million transactions filed through the FERC’s quarterly reporting system by all market-based rate holders selling wholesale energy in the bilateral markets.