In an effort to ease the growing uproar regarding the issuance of its March 18, 2010 Policy Statement on Penalty Guidelines (“Policy Statement”), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) on April 15, 2010, announced that it will suspend the application of its Policy Statement and give interested entities a broader opportunity to comment before issuing a final order and putting the guidelines into effect.

FERC issued the Penalty Guidelines to allegedly add fairness, consistency and transparency to all FERC civil penalty determinations.  However, the release of the Penalty Guidelines has been met with much concern by the industry as many of the recommended penalties, especially for violations of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Reliability Standards, carry a heavy fine.

FERC stated that it considers its March 18 action as an interim order and that the public interest would best be served by assessing additional comments on the penalty guidelines before issuing a final order.

Comments on the penalty guidelines are due 60 days from the date of the order.

A copy of the Policy Statement and Suspension Order are available at under Docket No. PL10-4-000.