FERC Issues Long-Awaited Proposal To Replace Current Electric Quarterly Reporting Filing Process

At its June 21st Open Meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) announcing its intention to create a new filing system for its Electric Quarterly Reports (EQRs).  EQRs are used by FERC to satisfy the Federal Power Act requirement for rates to be on file.  FERC currently requires EQR filers to submit data through Visual FoxPro, a Microsoft-supported software.  Microsoft has announced it will stop supporting Visual FoxPro in 2015.  FERC in the NOPR proposed two new filing options in lieu of the current system.   FERC has proposed that implementation of any changes to the EQR process begin with submission of data for the third quarter of 2013.  FERC solicited comments on the NOPR, which will be due within 60 days from the date the NOPR is published in the Federal Register. 

Visual FoxPro currently allows EQR filers to enter data manually or by importing the data in comma-delimited text files.  In order to "minimize the changes for an EQR filer and streamline the filing process by eliminating the need for filers to enter or import the data into a software application," the first option proposed by FERC would allow EQR filers to continue submitting data in a comma-delimited text format but through a web interface on ferc.gov, rather than through a separate software.  It is not clear if this process would allow a validation check prior to filing.

The second option would be for EQR filers to submit data through XML-formatted files, an approach currently utilized in eTariff filings.  In the NOPR, FERC notes the "various advantages" of this approach, specifically the ability to run validations checks that would allow EQR filers to "test the consistency of their data with the Commission's filing standards, improving the ability to comply with the EQR filing requirement and increasing confidence that the Commission receives the intended information."  This approach likely would involve third-party software in order to generate the XML files.

FERC has announced that it will lead a conference open to the public and available via webcast on July 11 in order to discuss the proposed changes.  Additional information related to the conference has not yet been provided by FERC, but details should be available at http://www.ferc.gov/ in the coming days.