The Commission may investigate any facts, conditions, practices, or matters which it may find necessary or proper in order to determine whether any person, electric utility, transmitting utility, or other entity has violated or is about to violate any provision of this chapter or any rule, regulation, or order thereunder, or to aid in the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter or in prescribing rules or regulations thereunder, or in obtaining information to serve as a basis for recommending further legislation concerning the matters to which this chapter relates, or in obtaining information about the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce and the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce. The Commission may permit any person, electric utility, transmitting utility, or other entity to file with it a statement in writing under oath or otherwise, as it shall determine, as to any or all facts and circumstances concerning a matter which may be the subject of investigation. The Commission, in its discretion, may publish or make available to State commissions information concerning any such subject.
For the purpose of any investigation or any other proceeding under this chapter, any member of the Commission, or any officer designated by it, is empowered to administer oaths and affirmations, subpena witnesses, compel their attendance, take evidence, and require the production of any books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, contracts, agreements, or other records which the Commission finds relevant or material to the inquiry. Such attendance of witnesses and the production of any such records may be required from any place in the United States at any designated place of hearing. Witnesses summoned by the Commission to appear before it shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the United States.
In case of contumacy by, or refusal to obey a subpena issued to, any person, the Commission may invoke the aid of any court of the United States within the jurisdiction of which such investigation or proceeding is carried on, or where such person resides or carries on business, in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, contracts, agreements, and other records. Such court may issue an order requiring such person to appear before the Commission or member or officer designated by the Commission, there to produce records, if so ordered, or to give testimony touching the matter under investigation or in question; and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof. All process in any such case may be served in the judicial district whereof such person is an inhabitant or wherever he may be found or may be doing business. Any person who willfully shall fail or refuse to attend and testify or to answer any lawful inquiry or to produce books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, contracts, agreements, or other records, if in his or its power so to do, in obedience to the subpena of the Commission, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.
The testimony of any witness may be taken, at the instance of a party, in any proceeding or investigation pending before the Commission, by deposition, at any time after the proceeding is at issue. The Commission may also order testimony to be taken by deposition in any proceeding or investigation pending before it, at any stage of such proceeding or investigation. Such depositions may be taken before any person authorized to administer oaths not being of counsel or attorney to either of the parties, nor interested in the proceeding or investigation. Reasonable notice must first be given in writing by the party or his attorney proposing to take such deposition to the opposite party or his attorney of record, as either may be nearest, which notice shall state the name of the witness and the time and place of the taking of his deposition. Any person may be compelled to appear and depose, and to produce documentary evidence, in the same manner as witnesses may be compelled to appear and testify and produce documentary evidence before the Commission, as hereinbefore provided. Such testimony shall be reduced to writing by the person taking the deposition, or under his direction, and shall, after it has been reduced to writing, be subscribed by the deponent.
If a witness whose testimony may be desired to be taken by deposition be in a foreign country, the deposition may be taken before an officer or person designated by the Commission, or agreed upon by the parties by stipulation in writing to be filed with the Commission. All depositions must be promptly filed with the Commission.
Witnesses whose depositions are taken as authorized in this chapter, and the person or officer taking the same, shall be entitled to the same fees as are paid for like services in the courts of the United States.
(June 10, 1920, ch. 285, pt. III, §307, as added Aug. 26, 1935, ch. 687, title II, §213, 49 Stat. 856; amended Pub. L. 91–452, title II, §221, Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 929; Pub. L. 109–58, title XII, §1284(b), Aug. 8, 2005, 119 Stat. 980.)
2005—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 109–58 inserted ", electric utility, transmitting utility, or other entity" after "person" in two places and inserted ", or in obtaining information about the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce and the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce" before period at end of first sentence.
1970—Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 91–452 struck out subsec. (g) which related to the immunity from prosecution of any individual compelled to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, after claiming his privilege against self-incrimination.
Amendment by Pub. L. 91–452 effective on 60th day following Oct. 15, 1970, and not to affect any immunity to which any individual is entitled under this section by reason of any testimony given before 60th day following Oct. 15, 1970, see section 260 of Pub. L. 91–452, set out as an Effective Date; Savings Provision note under section 6001 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure.