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US CFTC pledges swaps relief for public utilities

WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission plans to ease its new swaps rules to help public power utilities using swaps to hedge price risk, the head of the derivatives regulator said on Thursday.

The agency will propose to make it easier for electricity and natural gas utilities to continue to use these products without incurring the cost that comes from tighter new swaps laws written after the financial crisis.

"The Commission must continue to remain open to revisiting certain rules and making adjustments as necessary," Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen said in a statement released during a public roundtable with members of the industry.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law contains a fundamental overhaul of the swaps market, which total $690 trillion globally, subjecting banks engaging in swaps with clients to tight capital, reporting and registration standards.

The CFTC gives special protection to public utilities, forcing anyone trading more than $25 million in swaps with them to meet its rules, far lower than the $8 billion threshold for swap dealers doing business with other clients.

But the utilities complained that had caused an exodus of companies providing swaps they use to hedge energy prices, ramping up their cost of business. On March 21, the CFTC said in a letter it would not enforce the rule.

Wetjen said he would now offer a planned rule to address those concerns and amend the threshold.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)