The Commission's regulations allow Enforcement staff to conduct investigations relating to any matter subject to the Commission's jurisdiction. The investigative staff initiates investigations from information received through a variety of sources, both internal and external. Internally, information is received from the Division Analytics and Surveillance or other Commission offices, or from the Commission itself, or in the course of another investigation. Externally, information may be received from:
- a Self-Report;
- the Enforcement Hotline;
- a referral from a Market Monitoring Unit for an Independent System Operator or Regional Transmission Organization;
- a Complaint; or
- a referral from another government agency.
All information and documentation received during an investigation, as well as the existence of an investigation, is treated as non-public (only the Commission can authorize the public disclosure of the existence of an investigation or information obtained during an investigation).
More information regarding investigations may be found in the annual staff Reports on Enforcement, which are issued in the last quarter of each calendar year. These annual reports highlight significant investigations, including those that have proceeded to Commission Orders to Show Cause and those litigated in Federal District Court. They also provide descriptions and statistics on settlements, self-reports, investigations, and Hotline matters for the relevant fiscal year.
Our Enforcement Resources page provides a comprehensive list and links to statutes, regulations, Commission orders and policy statements, and staff reports relevant to how the Office of Enforcement conducts its investigations.
Before the Investigation
Prior to opening an investigation, staff reviews the information received and typically conducts a preliminary examination of the identified activity. Staff may consult publicly or commercially available sources of data, seek input from Commission staff with expertise in the subject matter, or contact the entity involved for an explanation of its actions. In some situations, this preliminary examination establishes an adequate justification for the subject activity or otherwise indicates that no further inquiry is needed. In other cases, staff determines that a fuller inquiry into the subject conduct is required, and opens an investigation. Learn More
Fact Gathering - An investigation involves fact-gathering by Enforcement staff through customary discovery methods such as data and document requests, interrogatories, interviews, and depositions. The time needed to complete an investigation depends on many factors, including the complexity of the conduct involved and the nature of the alleged violations. Staff will discuss with company representatives relevant facts and data as the fact gathering progresses, and subjects of an investigation may at any time contact Enforcement staff to provide additional information or explanations of their conduct. Learn More