Internship Spotlight: Rohit Garimella '24  Reflects on Working at FERC


Rohit Garimella '24
Rohit Garimella '24

This summer, Rohit Garimella '24 was sitting in on yet another Zoom meeting for his internship at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, this meeting was special: the commissioner of the agency Richard Glick had joined. 

"The director was talking to us about the importance of data validation," Rohit said. "It was really cool looking from the upper end––the political sphere––how this data can be used for analyzing the markets and how policy can change how the data is perceived. For example, I was looking at data on offers and bids on generators. With that, you can show whether there are any arbitrage opportunities companies are taking advantage of. Then you can use this data to make policy that ensures these companies don't find these loopholes or break the law." 


Data Validation

FERC is the federal agency responsible for regulating the transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and natural gas across state boundaries. Within the sprawling agency, Rohit specifically worked in the Division of Analytics and Surveillance, the branch tasked with verifying data. He was matched to this role through the Rockefeller Center's First Year Fellows program.

"The biggest project that we were working on was looking at the data from each of the regional independent system operators (ISO), and comparing that to data that's been reported to us," Rohit said. "There are a lot of different databases FERC has access to. These are different from the public APIs released by ISOs. We compare that public data to what we have privately in our databases."

As Rohit learned, discrepancies between these data sources were not unheard of. 

"There were definitely times when the ISO reported public data didn't match with what we had. Most of the time, it was an indicator that we had bad data. So first, we would check our sources and see if they were clean," Rohit said. "If we find anything wrong, we can track back and fix our data. If we think our source is clean, we contact the ISO and figure out what they are calculating differently from us."


Team Work

The work Rohit did was just a small part of the sprawling commission's work.

"I was working with a lot of mathematicians, computer scientists who were trying to find discrepancies that would be cause for investigation." 

Among the professionals Rohit worked alongside were Dartmouth alumni Jay Matson '91 and Nancy Bowler '82. Matson and Bowler are both Branch Managers within the agency, leading the investigations and surveillance teams, respectively. (Matson and Bowler have led FERC Bootcamps in partnership with the Irving Institute in the past, exposing students like Garimella to the how the electricity markets work and are regulated.)

"I had two mentors, both of them were Dartmouth alums," Rohit said, explaining how each got their start in the energy sector early in their careers. "I think that kind of shows how once people are in energy, they don't really want to leave. It's a very fascinating industry." 


Looking Ahead 

For Rohit, who intends to major in Math and Economics, his early foray into the energy industry had a similar impact on him. 

"Because I am interested in economics beyond finance, I was interested in looking first-hand at how economic regulation works," he explained when reflecting on his experience. "I didn't have any prior knowledge at all about the energy sector, and initially I wasn't even considering that as an option of a career. But now I think it's a very versatile field. This experience showed me the different things you can do and what the energy industry offers. I had a great time at FERC; it was one of the most fulfilling projects I have done. I would be open to [working in the energy sector again] if the opportunity arises."