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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. 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…)


  4. FERC Accepts PJM Capacity Performance Proposal

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015 2:36 pm by , and

    On June 9, 2015, FERC issued an order accepting PJM’s proposal to modify its forward capacity market, the Reliability Pricing Model (“RPM”), to establish a new capacity product, the Capacity Performance Resource.  PJM’s proposal is designed to tighten the performance standards applicable to resources that receive a capacity obligation through the RPM and is intended to address poor resource performance that has been experienced since implementation of the RPM, especially during the 2014 polar vortex.

    Once implemented, PJM’s proposal will impose more stringent performance standards on resources that receive a capacity obligation through the RPM, including imposing non-performance charges when resources fail to perform and bonus payments for over-performance. All capacity resources will be eligible to offer as Capacity Performance Resources, and demand resources, energy efficiency resources, capacity storage resources, and intermittent resources will be allowed to aggregate their capabilities in order to reliably perform during emergency conditions. A Non-Performance Charge will be assessed on resources who fail to perform during system emergencies. (more…)


  5. FERC Finds Manipulation Violations by Company and Trader that Complied with Tariff but did not Act to Further Market Design Goals

    Friday, May 29, 2015 2:50 pm by and

    On May 29, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Order Assessing Civil Penalties against Powhatan Energy Fund and its affiliates as well as against Houlian Chen, Powhatan’s chief trader, for violating FERC’s anti-manipulation rule. FERC ordered Powhatan to pay $28.8 million in penalties and over $4.7 million in disgorgement and it ordered Chen to pay an additional $1 million penalty. In this assessment order, FERC rejected all of Powhatan’s arguments and instead adopted the Division of Enforcement’s recommendations on the facts, the law and the penalty amounts. The Order directs Powhatan and Chen to pay the penalties and the disgorgement amounts within 60 days of the date of the order. Similar to the Barclays case currently pending in federal district court in California, because Powhatan previously elected to have the matter heard de novo in federal district court, if Powhatan and Chen fail to pay, FERC must go to federal district court to enforce its penalty assessment.

    (more…)


  6. Federal District Court Denies Barclays Motion to Dismiss FERC Petition Which Alleges Manipulation and Assesses Significant Penalties

    Thursday, May 21, 2015 2:02 pm by , , and

    For the past two years we have been tracking and reporting on an enforcement proceeding brought by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) against Barclays Bank PLC (“Barclays”), Daniel Brin, Scott Connelly, Karen Levine, and Ryan Smith (collectively, the “Traders” and together with Barclays, “Defendants”) for alleged manipulative trading in the western electricity markets from November 2006 to December 2008. Yesterday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion by the Defendants to dismiss the manipulation action. Although the court’s order did not address the merits of the manipulation charge, the court’s order is significant because it is the first judicial ruling on the scope of FERC’s enforcement authority over the physical electricity markets and the court found that FERC can pursue civil penalty actions against individuals as well as companies. (more…)


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