WASHINGTON (AP) -- Williams Cos., one of the country's major energy companies, has agreed to pay a $20 million civil fine to settle charges that its pipeline subsidiary gave favorable treatment to another Williams company at the expense of other shippers, federal regulators announced Monday.
It is the largest penalty ever to result from an investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The fine involves activities of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corp., or Transco, a Williams subsidiary that operates 10,000 miles of pipeline that ships natural gas from Gulf Coast wells into the Southeast and Northeast.
The FERC accused Transco of providing Williams Energy Trading & amp; Marketing Co. "undue preference" on its pipelines and allowing its sister company access to market and shipping data it did not provide to other shippers.
FERC's chairman, Pat Wood, said the investigation, which examined Transco transactions going back to 1999, "should make it abundantly clear that improper dealing will not be allowed to jeopardize the economic growth that comes from open and fair markets."