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In June 1920, Congress created the Federal Power Commission (FPC) to promote hydroelectric development and to improve navigation. Establishment of the FPC seemingly capped an acrimonious debate over what role the federal government would play in the development of hydroelectricity in the United States. Congress amended the 1920 law several times—notably in 1930, 1935, and 1977—the last established the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which replaced the FPC. Additionally, Congress and the courts expanded the authority of the FPC and then FERC to include regulation of natural gas. Other congressional action, including the Rural Electrification Act (1936) and establishment of the Bonneville Power Administration, further expanded the authority of the federal government in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy. Although many of these ...

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