On November 18, 2021, the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Enforcement ("OE" or "Staff") issued its 2021 Report on Enforcement (the "Report") for the Commission's fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.1 In short, the metrics reported by OE appear consistent with Chairman Glick's statement during the Commission's open meeting on November 18, 2021 that "[t]he cop is back on the street and we will aggressively pursue wrongdoing."2

The Commission requires OE to prepare the Report in order to inform the public of the activities of OE and its three Divisions: the Division of Investigations ("DOI"); the Division of Analytics and Surveillance ("DAS"); and the Division of Audits and Accounting ("DAA").3

OE explained that its priorities had expanded from the prior year to include threats to infrastructure and related environmental and community impacts. This is significant because it represents the first new priority added to OE's list since OE began issuing a Report. OE's 2021 fiscal year priorities were:

  1. fraud and market manipulation;
  2. serious violations of the Reliability Standards;
  3. anticompetitive conduct;
  4. threats to the nation's energy infrastructure and associated impacts on the environment and surrounding communities; and
  5. conduct that threatens the transparency of regulated markets.4

Below are our key insights based on the Report.

More Investigations and Settlements Than in Fiscal Year 2020

In the 2021 fiscal year, DOI opened 12 new investigations.5 It negotiated nine settlement agreements, including eight investigations and a federal district court matter, totaling approximately $7.9 million in civil penalties and disgorgement.6 Several sources referred the new investigations to Staff, including RTO/ISO market monitors, DAS, and DAA.

By comparison, in fiscal year 2020, DOI staff opened only six new investigations and settled three investigations totaling approximately $553,376 in civil penalties and disgorgement.7

Hidden Insights in the FERC 2021 Report of Enforcement

Notably, however, the number of new investigations DOI opened in the 2021 fiscal year is still much lower compared to the 2013-2018 period, as reflected in the following table:

Fiscal Year

Number of New Investigations

Number of Settlements

2013 24 118
2014 17 8
2015 19 9
2016 17 6
2017 27 5
2018 24 6
2019 12 2
2020 6 3
2021 12 9

DOI Closed Four Market Manipulation Investigations Because of Insufficient Evidence

DOI closed four pending investigations this fiscal year without recommending charges after Staff found there was insufficient evidence to conclude a violation had occurred. All four were investigations into potential market manipulation, and one investigation also examined tariff violations as well as misrepresentations prohibited by the Duty of Candor rule. RTOs/ISOs referred three of the four investigations, while DAS referred the other.9


1 Available here. All references to yearly totals in this document refer to FERC's fiscal year ending September 30, 2021. The Commission's fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year.

2 Ethan Howland, FERC Investigates Possible Market Manipulation During Winter Storm Uri, UTILITY DIVE (Nov. 19, 2021).

3 Enforcement of Statutes, Regulations and Orders, 123 FERC 61,156 at P 12 (2008).

4 Report at 6.

5 Id. at 6, 8.

6 Id. at 6.

7 See OFF. OF ENF'T, FED. ENERGY REGUL. COMM'N, 2020 REPORT ON ENFORCEMENT at 7 (2020) (available here) ("2020 Report").

8 The 2013 Report on Enforcement did not specify the number of settlements, but listed 11 example matters that settled in 2013.

9 Report at 40–41.

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