FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
As an example of its renewed focus on dam safety, FERC recently issued an order assessing a $600,000 civil penalty to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro LLC for a violation of Ampersand’s hydro license for the 500 kW Cranberry Lake Project No. 9658. The violation is related to Ampersand’s failure to complete known dam safety repairs over multiple years and its loss of property rights needed for the Cranberry Lake Project, located on the Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County, New York.
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A recent district court order highlights the importance of maintaining a strong compliance program with effective compliance controls and practices, while highlighting the risk of employee misconduct for the enterprise itself. Specifically, on December 20, a California district court denied a motion to dismiss a FERC complaint that seeks to enforce a penalty against a company and one of its traders. In addition to finding that FERC’s claims were not time barred, the court also found that the employer can be held liable for the trader’s actions even though the trader withheld information from the company regarding the trading activity at issue. However, in a win for the company, the court limited the civil penalties that may be sought in a complaint to the proposed penalty set forth in FERC’s order to show cause. This limits FERC’s ability to penalize a defendant for choosing to contest a proposed sanction in district court.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued show cause orders to two natural pipelines—Rover Pipeline and Midship Pipeline Company—following its December 2021 open meeting, and sent a related dispute involving Midship for an administrative hearing. Chairman Richard Glick has signaled in the last year his desire for a more active enforcement program.

FERC recently issued a notice of extension of time further extending, by three months, the compliance dates for FERC’s new market-based rate (MBR) relationship database filing requirements under Order No. 860. This extension follows multiple prior extensions. Meeting these new deadlines is required of all public utilities who either currently hold MBR authority or will request MBR authorization to engage in sales for resale of electric energy, capacity, or ancillary services at marked-based or negotiated rates. Given the complexity of the new reporting requirements, the deadlines extension will provide valuable additional time to entities to prepare their baseline submission.

FERC recently issued an order to show cause and notice of proposed penalty to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro LLC for a violation of Ampersand’s hydro license for the Cranberry Lake Project No. 9658 (Cranberry Lake Project). FERC ordered Ampersand to show cause as to why it should not be found to have violated Article 5 of the project license by failing to retain possession of all project property covered by the license, and to show cause as to why it should not be assessed a civil penalty of $600,000 for that violation.
Since January, FERC-regulated market participants and practitioners alike have anticipated how FERC may approach its enforcement mission under the stewardship of Chairman Richard Glick following his appointment as chair by President Biden. Although most market participants and practitioners have expected FERC to take an aggressive approach in investigating and penalizing instances of misconduct, FERC confirmed those expectations in its May 20 open meeting.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced last week that it has obtained another admission from a trader of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, demonstrating its continued aggressive enforcement of its market anti-manipulation provisions.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced on February 22 that its Office of Enforcement would examine wholesale natural gas and electricity market activity during last week’s extreme cold weather “to determine if any market participants engaged in market manipulation or other violations.” FERC’s brief press release explained that its examination is part of its existing surveillance program for market participant behaviors in the wholesale natural gas and electric markets.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed revisions to its Policy Statement on Natural Gas and Electric Price Indices (Policy Statement) on December 17 to encourage market participants to report transactions to price index developers and to provide greater transparency into the natural gas price formation process.