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Federal Energy Regulation Commission
Mission | History | Who's in Charge

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Mission

FERC is an independent federal regulatory agency responsible for seeing that the wholesale electricity prices that generators charge utility companies are "just and reasonable." It does not regulate the retail electricity rates that households, businesses and organizations pay directly -- that is up to state utility commissions. FERC also oversees rates for transmitting electricity between states, hydroelectric licensing, certification of natural gas and oil pipelines and pipeline transmission rates.

It has about 1,200 employees, with headquarters in the District near Union Station. Its budget this year is $175.2 million.

History

FERC was created through the Department of Energy Organization Act in 1977, when the Energy Department was established. Its predecessor, the Federal Power Commission, was abolished and its duties divided between FERC and the Energy Department. The FPC was established in 1920 to regulate the electric power and natural gas industries.

The FPC's authority over electricity rates was greatly strengthened with the passage of the Federal Power Act in 1935, one of the landmark laws of the New Deal.

Who's in Charge

FERC is run by five commissioners who are appointed by the president to five-year, staggered terms. No more than three members may belong to the same political party. One member is designated by the president to serve as chairman.
• Chairman Curt Hebert Jr., Republican, appointed by President Bush, announced Aug. 6 that he would resign by the end of the month.
Linda Key Breathitt, Democrat
William L. Massey, Democrat
Pat Wood III, Republican
• Nora Mead Brownell, Republican

On the Web

FERC