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Energy legislation would protect consumers against market manipulation

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New legislation would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more authority to stop traders from repeatedly manipulating electricity and natural gas markets.

Introduced in the House by Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Sean Casten of Illinois, and Virginia’s Don Beyer, and in the Senate by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nebraska and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Energy Consumer Protection Act would give FERC additional tools to enforce existing law. The legislation, according to a press release, would also allow FERC to temporarily or permanently ban companies from trading in energy markets if they violate the Federal Power Act or Natural Gas Act by manipulating the electricity or natural gas markets or if they file false information regarding those markets.

“We need an all-of-the-above strategy to make sure that energy prices are affordable for Nevadans,” Cortez Masto said in a press release, “and that includes my legislation to create new tools to prevent bad actors from manipulating energy markets and hiking up prices for consumers and businesses alike. I’m going to continue working to bring down costs for businesses and families in the Silver State.”

According to Cantwell, the bill adds a key consumer protection arrow to FERC’s quiver “by blocking market manipulators from repeating their crimes and harming energy consumers. The burden of today’s elevated energy prices makes the quick passage of this bill more important than ever.”

“As historic heat waves sweep the nation, American families face blackouts and rising energy prices,” Schakowsky said in a press release. “The blame for this rests squarely at the feet of energy companies who for years have manipulated markets and deceived regulators. It is time to protect consumers and reign in these companies to ensure this never happens again.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.