As SNL puts it:
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General has given a big thumbs-up to the way FERC's Office of Enforcement is conducting its investigations.
"Based on our review, nothing came to our attention to indicate that [Office of Enforcement] had not performed enforcement activities in accordance with relevant policies and procedures," the inspector general said in a special report.
However, one of FERC's biggest critics in that regard assailed the inspector general for focusing on whether FERC complies with its own policies without discussing whether those policies are flawed or violate due process in the first place.
"That takes damning with faint praise to new heights," William Scherman, a former FERC general counsel and partner with the firm Gibson Dunn, said in an interview. The lawyer also said the inspector general appears to be inviting Congress to address the problem, "and hopefully they will" in the energy bills moving thru the Legislature.
7 closed investigations, 20 closed hotline cases, and 10 closed cases regarding potential violations, which had been self-reported by regulated entities.
Also, we specifically evaluated an allegation that the settlement of an enforcement action involving Constellation Energy Commodities Group, Inc., (Constellation) was inappropriately linked to a then-pending request for a merger between Constellation and the Exelon Corporation (Exelon). Specifically, the Senators expressed their concern that Constellation's agreement to settle the enforcement action was provided in exchange for FERC's approval of the merger (referred to as quid pro quo).
We found that that the Constellation-Exelon merger was specifically mentioned in the terms of the FERC/Constellation settlement agreement. Further, we determined that even before the merger was approved, Exelon executives were directly involved in the settlement negotiations. Finally, we note that the approval of the merger by FERC and the consummation of the enforcement settlement agreement took place on the same day. The lingering question was whether these actions represented an inappropriate quid pro quo. While these actions may have raised understandable concerns, the evidence did not support such a conclusion. In fact, we found that Exelon had specifically asked for language in the settlement agreement that linked the effective date of the settlement with the effective date of FERC's approval of its merger with Constellation.
Here's another funny co-inky-dinky... Inspector General Gregory Friedman retired on the same day this report was released. Apparently DOE has a history of retiring employees who don't want to answer questions.
But(t), all is not lost... the Inspector General thinks the basic fairness of FERC's enforcement authority needs to be reviewed by Congress.
In addition to the issues we specifically evaluated, there were several that we were unable to review. Those concerns related to what was essentially the basic fairness of FERC's enforcement authority/processes. We concluded that these matters were public policy questions which, as important as they may be, are best addressed by policy makers and as such, were outside the purview of the OIG.