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  1. BP Initial Decision: The Significance of Change

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015 8:10 am by , , and

    On August 13, 2015, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) assigned to hear evidence in BP America Inc. et. Al (Docket No. IN13-15) issued an Initial Decision in which she found that BP America Inc., and certain of its affiliates (collectively “BP”) engaged in market manipulation by intentionally trading to influence index prices to benefit a related financial position.  Putting aside the merits of the BP case, the Initial Decision is a good reminder of the kind of circumstantial evidence that regulators might interpret as indicia of manipulation.  The reoccurring theme is CHANGE.  (more…)


  2. BP Initial Decision Adopts FERC Staff’s Positions

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015 1:17 pm by , , and

    Seven years after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) first opened an investigation into the trading practices of BP America Inc. and certain of its affiliates (collectively “BP”), on August, 13, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Carmen Cintron (“ALJ Cintron”) issued her Initial Decision in the case of BP America Inc., finding that “BP engaged in market manipulation” by “intentionally [selling] large volumes of next-day physical gas at HSC in a way designed to benefit their corresponding short financial positions.”[1]  ALJ Cintron agreed with FERC Staff on all the material issues in the case, disagreeing with BP that FERC did not have jurisdiction over the case and finding BP’s defenses unpersuasive. (more…)


  3. FERC Fines Columbia Gas $350,000 for Violating Auction Rules

    Friday, July 31, 2015 9:35 am by and

    On July 30, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a stipulation and consent agreement between the FERC Office of Enforcement and Columbia Gas Transmission LLC (Columbia Gas) for violations of Section 4 of Columbia Gas’s tariff governing auctions for firm capacity. Columbia Gas admitted the violations and agreed to a $350,000 civil penalty along with compliance improvements. (more…)


  4. Senate Energy Bill Provisions On Hydro Licensing

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 1:57 pm by

    The draft comprehensive energy bill released by Senator Murkowski, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and reflecting her collaboration with Senator Cantwell, the Ranking Member on the Committee, contains a number of provisions relating to hydro. If enacted in anything close to their present form, these provisions would represent the most ambitious reform of the hydroelectric licensing process since the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 (“ECPA”).  However,  ECPA essentially represented a bargain between owners of existing hydro who were concerned about the possibility of municipal take overs upon relicensing, and the environmental community who wanted to essentially retrofit the National Environmental Policy Act concepts into projects that were developed under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and constructed in the early and mid-twentieth century.  The most recent draft hydro reform amendments, by contrast, are largely procedural and appear to be designed to make the hydro process ushered in by ECPA actually work more effectively, without the delays, environmental squabbling, litigation and expense engendered by the existing regime.   (more…)


  5. FERC’s Demand Response Policy Defended at the Supreme Court

    Friday, July 17, 2015 2:54 pm by

    Briefs defending the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s demand response (“DR”) pricing policy were filed in the Supreme Court of the United States on July 9, 2015. The arguments set forth in those briefs will determine whether FERC’s robust support of DR as a player in competitive wholesale electric energy markets will survive legal scrutiny. Notably, the brief submitted by the Solicitor General of the United States (“SG) on behalf of FERC reflects interesting and somewhat surprising choices in defense of the Commission’s policy which D.C. Circuit had characterized as regulatory overreach and overturned. (more…)


  6. Scope of Trial De Novo Debated in Barclays Electricity Manipulation Case

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015 4:34 pm by , and

    After almost eight years since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commenced its investigation against Barclays Bank PLC (Barclays) and four of its traders, Scott Connelly, Daniel Brin, Karen Levine and Ryan Smith, for allegedly manipulating the California electricity markets, Barclays filed its answer in federal district court. As expected, Barclays denied all of FERC’s substantive allegations and asserted that the District Court should give no merit to FERC’s findings of fact or legal conclusions. FERC, according to Barclays and the individual traders, must prove its case before an independent arbiter and cannot rely on anything that happened at the agency level. FERC is seeking a $435 million civil penalty against Barclays; $15 million against Connelly; and $1 million each from Brin and Levine. (more…)


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