The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Class of 2021 First-Year Fellow: Bill Cui

FYF Bill Cui

As a First-Year Fellow, Bill Cui ’21 interned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the mentorship of Jay Matson ’91.

FYF Bill Cui and Harish Tekriwal

First-Year Fellows, Bill Cui '21 and Harish Tekriwal '21 interned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C.

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As a First-Year Fellow, Bill Cui ’21 interned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the mentorship of Jay Matson ’91. Here is an excerpt from his final report.

This summer, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent regulatory agency under the Department of Energy. It is one of the key agencies that regulate natural gas, oil, and electricity industries. Its responsibilities include monitoring wholesale market transactions, approving interstate pipelines, and regulating energy generation facilities, etc. FERC has headquarters in Washington DC and various regional offices across the country. Due to the complex nature of its work, FERC needs to balance different priorities in its daily operations. For example, it aims to promote fair and justifiable energy charges for public benefits; at the same time, it works to protect energy market participants from being cheated by other players.

I worked at one of the electric surveillance branches in the Division of Analytics and Surveillance (DAS) of the Office of Enforcement (OE). OE works to encourage energy market participants to comply with the Commission’s regulations and market-specific rules. There are four divisions within OE, and all of them work together to ensure order and compliance in energy markets. DAS, a newly created branch, is at the frontline of market monitoring. With FERC Order 760, the Commission now receives monthly data from electricity and natural gas markets across the nation. Having a consistent stream of data feed, DAS has been trying to develop systematic ways of screening market behavior and identifying potential violations. Since several years ago, DAS has been building a surveillance intranet database that transforms market data into monthly report for analysts to examine. I worked for Nancy in her electric surveillance branch within DAS. The branch’s daily operation including running existing screens (“doing screen trips”) to detect potential violations and coding to develop more effective screens for future use. My intern project involved conducting research of the demand response programs (DR) in PJM, the electricity market that services 13 states and Washington DC, and developing a screen that future analysts could use to surveil this section of the market. To understand the market structures, I took a deep dive into the PJM Tariff and other relevant documents. After reading thousands of pages of documents and presentations, I was able to gain a decent understanding of PJM DR programs and market mechanisms. I also participated in several conference calls with PJM and its independent market monitor to clarify some of my concerns. After that, I started looking at sensitive market data that FERC obtains through Order 760. I tried to reorganize raw data and visualize them in ways that would make sense from a surveillance standpoint. Along the way, I learned to code using SAS and SQL. Finally, my screen was added to FERC’s surveillance database and will be used monthly by future analysts.

Throughout my internship, I learned to use various tools to conduct quantitative analysis and gained a better understanding of how big data could be helpful in real life. When I return to Dartmouth, I will definitely be able to put my quantitative skills to use in class. More specifically, I plan to take on a TA job for Econometrics and begin doing research in the Economics Department. At the same time, I look forward to participating in and contributing to more Rocky programs, having had the exposure of working in the federal government. Moreover, this fellowship and the people I met in Washington, D.C. made me believe more firmly in the impact of public policy. Therefore, I will seek future opportunities related to shaping public policy. I would like to thank everyone at Rocky, my mentors, and my supervisor who worked really hard to make this fellowship possible.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences