A leaner bureaucracy sharpens its market-monitoring tools.
Mark Hand is senior editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) turns 25 this year, but Chairman Pat Wood hasn't asked staff to begin making arrangements for a special birthday bash to mark the milestone. Five years ago, FERC set aside time for a special observance when then-Chairman James Hoecker invited former members back to commission headquarters to celebrate the agency's 20th anniversary.
With Enron's collapse and California's unraveled electric restructuring scheme, the silver anniversary reminiscing may be slightly muted. These days, the commission may want to attempt to stay out of Congress' crosshairs as much as it can, given the legislative branch's already-constant requests for testimony and data.
Pat Wood's commission isn't the first one tasked with addressing pressing national energy concerns of interest to the general public. Look back, for instance, at the period soon after FERC's birth and you'll learn a little bit about how the commission handled political pressures during a decade often remembered in U.S. history for its energy crises.