In 1920, Congress established the Federal Power Commission (FPC) to coordinate hydroelectric projects under federal control.
Under the joint administration of the Secretaries of War, Interior, and Agriculture, the FPC could only employ an Executive Secretary. All other personnel were borrowed from these administrating executive departments.
This organizational structure resulted in conflicting mandates, making it difficult to produce a consistent energy policy.
In 1928, Congress voted to give the FPC funds to permanently hire their borrowed staff. Two years later, the Federal Power Act established a five-member, bipartisan commission to run the FPC.
Through court decisions and the enactment of new laws, the mission of the FPC expanded.
Large backlogs of applications for natural gas permits, chronic brownouts in the 1960s and the OPEC embargo in the 1970s led to efforts to reorganize the FPC.
In 1977, Congress reorganized the FPC as FERC.