thefederalregister.com

Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

18 CFR Part 35

[Docket No. RM12-3-000; Order No. 770]

Revisions to Electric Quarterly Report Filing Process

AGENCY: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DOE.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) amends its regulations to change the process for filing Electric Quarterly Reports (EQR). Due to technology changes that will render the current filing process outmoded, ineffective, and unsustainable, the Commission will discontinue the use of Commission-distributed software to file an EQR. Instead, the Commission adopts a web-based approach to filing EQRs that will allow a public or non-public utility to file an EQR directly through the Commission's Web site, either through a web interface or by submitting an Extensible Mark-Up Language-formatted file. By adopting a process with two options for filing EQRs, the Commission seeks to provide the flexibility needed to accommodate a public or non-public utility's technical preference. The Commission also requires a public or non-public utility to identify itself with a company identification number rather than the existing software-based EQR identifier. The changes to the process for filing EQRs will apply to EQR filings beginning with the third quarter 2013 EQR, which will provide data for July through September 2013.
DATES: Effective date:This rule will become effective April 1, 2013.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Connie Caldwell, Office of Enforcement, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-6489,Connie.Caldwell@ferc.gov. Christina Switzer, Office of General Counsel, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-6379,Christina.Switzer@ferc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Before Commissioners: Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman; Philip D. Moeller, John R. Norris, Cheryl A. LaFleur, and Tony T. Clark. Final Rule (Issued November 15, 2012) Table of Contents Paragraph Nos. I. Introduction 1 II. Background 3 III. Discussion 6 A. Need for Changing the Current EQR Filing Process 6 1. NOPR Proposal 6 2. Comments 7 3. Commission Determination 8 B. Option One—Web Interface 9 1. NOPR Proposal 9 2. Comments 10 3. Commission Determination 12 C. Option 2—XML-Formatted File 16 1. NOPR Proposal 16 2. Comments 17 3. Commission Determination 18 D. Validation 19 1. NOPR 19 2. Comments 20 3. Commission Determination 24 E. Company Registration System 30 1. NOPR Proposal 30 2. Comments 31 3. Commission Determination 33 F. Implementation and Compliance 37 1. NOPR Proposal 37 2. Comments 38 3. Commission Determination 47 IV. Information Collection Statement 53 V. Environmental Analysis 64 VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act 65 VII. Document Availability 71 VIII. Effective Date and Congressional Notification 74 Appendix A: List of Commenters Appendix B: EQR Data Dictionary I. Introduction

1. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) adopts changes to the method for filing Electric Quarterly Reports (EQR). Due to technology changes that will render the current filing process outmoded, ineffective, and unsustainable, the Commission will discontinue the use of Commission-distributed software (EQR software) to file an EQR. Instead, the Commission adopts a web-based approach that will allow a public or non-public utility to file an EQR directly through the Commission's Web site, either through a web interface or by submitting an Extensible Mark-Up Language (XML)-formatted1 file (XML option). The Commission also requires a public utility or non-public utility to identify itself with a company identification number (Company Identifier) rather than the existing software-based EQR identifier (Personal Identification Number (PIN)). The changes to the process for filing EQRs will apply to EQR filings beginning with the third quarter (Q3) 2013 EQR, which will provide data for July through September 2013.

1XML schemas facilitate the sharing of data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet, by structuring the data using tags to identify particular data elements. For example, each filed EQR will include tags for the relevant information. The tagged information can be extracted and separately searched.

2. Before turning to the requirements in this Final Rule, it is important to explain certain terms. In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), the Commission often used the term “filer” in the description of the two new filing options.2 We find that using the term “filer” created confusion because it was not clear whether the Commission was talking about a public or non-public utility, its agent, or a respondent. Thus, in this Final Rule, we use the phrase “EQR seller” to mean companies that are authorized to sell power under Part 35 of the Commission's regulations3 as well as non-public utilities4 that arerequired to comply with the EQR filing requirements pursuant to theElectricity Market Transparency Provisions of Section 220 of the Federal Power Act,Order No. 768.5 We use the phrase “EQR agent” to mean an entity that an EQR seller designates to file on its behalf. An EQR seller will be able to designate multiple EQR agents.6 Even when an EQR agent files on an EQR seller's behalf, the legal obligation for complying with the EQR requirements remains with the companies that are authorized to sell power under Part 35 of the Commission's regulations and non-public utilities, and any inaccuracies are their responsibility.

2 Revisions to Electric Quarterly Report Filing Process, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 (2012) (NOPR).

3 See Revised Public Utility Filing Requirements,Order No. 2001, 67 FR 31044 (May 8, 2002), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,127 at 30,116,reh'g denied,Order No. 2001-A, 100 FERC ¶ 61,074,reh'g denied,Order No. 2001-B, 100 FERC ¶ 61,342,order directing filing,Order No. 2001-C, 101 FERC ¶ 61,314 (2002),order directing filing,Order No. 2001-D, 102 FERC ¶ 61,334,order refining filing requirements,Order No. 2001-E, 105 FERC ¶ 61,352 (2003),order on clarification,Order No. 2001-F, 106 FERC ¶ 61,060 (2004),order revising filing requirements,Order No. 2001-G, 72 FR 56735 (Oct. 4, 2007), 120 FERC ¶ 61,270, at PP 10-11,order on reh'g and clarification,Order No. 2001-H, 73 FR 1876 (Jan. 10, 2008), 121 FERC ¶ 61,289 (2007),order revising filing requirements,Order No. 2001-I, 73 FR 65526 (Nov. 4, 2008), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,282 (2008).

4“Non-public utility” refers to a market participant that is not a public utility under section 201(f) of the FPA. FPA section 201(f) provides: No provision in this Part shall apply to, or be deemed to include, the United States, a State or any political subdivision of a State, an electric cooperative that receives financing under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) or that sells less than 4,000,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year, or any agency, authority, or instrumentality of any one or more of the foregoing, or any corporation which is wholly owned, directly or indirectly, byany one or more of the foregoing, or any officer, agent, employee of any of the foregoing acting as such in the course of his official duty, unless such provision makes specific reference thereto. 16 U.S.C. 824(f).

577 FR 61896 (Oct. 11, 2012), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,336 (2012)(Transparency Rule). In that rulemaking, the Commission extended the EQR filing requirements to non-public utilities above ade minimismarket presence threshold and adopted new filing requirements for both public and non-public utilities.

6The process for designating an EQR agent is discussed in detail below.See supra,section III.E.

II. Background

3. The purpose of the EQR is to

make available for public inspection, in a convenient form and place all relevant information relating to public utility rates, terms, and conditions of service; ensure that information is available in a standardized, user friendly format; and meet the Commission's electronic filing option obligation. [Footnote omitted.] These actions also will allow the public to better participate in and obtain the full benefits of wholesale electric power markets while minimizing the reporting burden on public utilities.7

7Order No. 2001, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,127 at 30,116.

The EQR allows public utilities to fulfill their responsibility under section 205(c)8 of the FPA to have rates on file in a convenient form and place.9 Non-public utilities will file EQRs to meet the requirements under section 220 of the FPA,10 as explained in theElectricity Market Transparency Provisions of Section 220 of the Federal Power Act,Order No. 768.11

816 U.S.C. 824d(c).

9Order No. 2001, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,127 at P 31.

10EPAct 2005, Public Law 109-58, 119 Stat. 594 (2005).

11Transparency Rule, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,336. In that rulemaking, the Commission extended the EQR filing requirements to non-public utilities above ade minimismarket presence threshold and adopted new filing requirements for both public and non-public utilities.

4. Prior to the issuance of Order No. 2001, the Commission required all public utilities to file inpaper formatall short-term and long-term service agreements for cost-based and market-based power sales as well as service agreements for generally applicable services (such as point-to-point transmission service). In Order No. 2001, the Commission replaced the paper filing requirement with an electronic filing requirement.12

The Commission specified that EQRs should “be prepared in conformance with the Commission's software and guidance posted and available for downloading from the FERC Web site (http://www.ferc.gov).”13 Since the fourth quarter of 2002, the Commission has posted on its Web site a Commission-developed Visual FoxPro application for filing EQRs (EQR software) that runs on Microsoft Windows-based computers.14

12The Commission has refined and clarified the EQR filing requirements set forth in Order No. 2001 in response to changes in the industry and the Commission's rules and regulations. For example, the Commission has required EQR sellers to report all transmission capacity reassignments and proposed to revise the EQR Data Dictionary to add “Simultaneous Exchange” to the list of available product names.See Preventing Undue Discrimination and Preference in Transmission Service,Order No. 890, 72 FR 12266 (Mar. 15, 2007), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,241, at P 817,order on reh'g,Order No. 890-A, 73 FR 2984 (Jan. 16, 2008), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,261 (2007),order on reh'g and clarification,Order No. 890-B, 73 FR 39092 (July 8, 2008), 123 FERC ¶ 61,299 (2008),order on reh'g,Order No. 890-C, 74 FR 12540 (Mar. 25, 2009),126 FERC ¶ 61,228 (2009),order on clarification,Order No. 890-D, 74 FR 61511 (Nov. 25, 2009), 129 FERC ¶ 61,126 (2009);Revised Public Utility Filing Requirements for Electric Quarterly Reports,Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 77 FR 16494 (Mar. 21, 2012), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,687 (2012).

1318 CFR 35.10b.

14 SeeNotice Providing Detail On Electric Quarterly Reports Software Availability and Announcing Schedule for Software Demonstrations, Docket No. RM01-8-000 (Dec. 20, 2002).

5. On June 21, 2012, the Commission issued a NOPR in this proceeding to propose changes to the EQR electronic filing process.15 On July 11, 2012, the Commission held a technical conference to present the two new proposed options for filing EQRs. On July 27, 2012, the Commission posted on its Web site a draft of the XML schema (draft XML schema) for the proposed XML option so that interested parties would be able to view the draft XML schema prior to submitting comments on the NOPR.16 The Commission also posted a “Frequently Asked Questions” document on its Web site in response to questions raised at the July 11 technical conference.17 The Commission received eight comments in response to the NOPR.18

15NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689.

16Notice of Availability of Draft XML Schema, Docket No. RM12-3-000 (July 27, 2012). The draft XML-schema is available on the Commission's Web site athttp://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eqr.asp.

17The Frequently Asked Questions document is also available on the Commission's Web site athttp://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eqr.asp.

18See Appendix A for a list of commenters and their abbreviated names used here. We note that Southern California Edison joins EEI's comments.

III. Discussion A. Need for Changing the Current EQR Filing Process 1. NOPR Proposal

6. In the NOPR, the Commission stated that, pursuant to the Commission's regulations,19 EQR sellers and agents must download EQR software from the Commission's Web site. The Commission explained that this software was built with Visual FoxPro development tools and must be installed on a Windows-based computer. The Commission identified certain disadvantages with the current filing process, such as the fact that Microsoft, the vendor of Visual FoxPro, announced in 2007 that it would no longer sell or issue new versions of Visual FoxPro and would not provide support for the software after 2015. The Commission also explained that data limitations make the EQR software outmoded, ineffective, and unsustainable.20 The Commission stated that the changes proposed in the NOPR support the goals of Executive Order 1357921 because the Commission proposed to modify a filing process that has become outmoded and ineffective.22

1918 CFR 35.10b.

20NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 4.

21 Regulation and Independent Regulatory Agencies,Exec. Order 13579, 76 FR 41587 (2011). Through this Executive Order, the President requested that executive agencies retrospectively analyze their agency's rules and that those found to be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed in accordance with the results of that analysis.

22NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 5.

2. Comments

7. Commenters understand the technical limitations of the existing software and the Commission's decision to discontinue it.23 Pacific Gas and Electric commends the Commission for its ongoing efforts to enhance the efficiency of the EQR data gathering and reporting process.24

23 See, e.g.,Idaho Power at 2; Pacific Gas and Electric at 1.

24Pacific Gas and Electric at 1.

3. Commission Determination

8. We conclude that the proposed changes to the method for filing EQRs are appropriate. As explained in the NOPR, continuing to rely on the current EQR software is unsustainable because Microsoft will no longer sell or issuenew versions of Visual FoxPro.25 Further, the data limitations of the current software make it untenable for use going forward.26 As the Commission also explained, the move from a software-based approach to a web-based approach will eliminate the need for EQR sellers and agents to download software from the Commission's Web site.27 In addition, a web-based approach for EQR filing is device-independent, which eliminates the need for EQR sellers and agents to use a Windows-based computer to file an EQR.28 We also note that the new filing process will allow EQR sellers and agents to access and revise EQR data filed prior to Q3 2013.

25NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 4.

26 Id.

27 Id.P 6.

28 Id.

B. Option One—Web Interface 1. NOPR Proposal

9. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed to offer a web interface on the Commission's Web site that allows EQR sellers and agents to continue to enter data in the comma-delimited text (CSV) format but without the need to download the EQR software.29 The Commission stated that this option would minimize the changes for EQR sellers and agents and streamline the filing process by eliminating the need for EQR sellers and agents to enter or import the data into a software application.

29 Id.

2. Comments

10. Commenters generally support the web interface option as long as the transition from the current filing process is not overly difficult or costly.30 Some commenters argue that they cannot fully comment on the web interface option without a live demonstration.31 EEI believes that the web interface will allow (1) companies to upload complete sets of data from prior EQRs, and then edit the information to reflect changes in the current quarter, rather than having to start each new EQR from a blank slate; (2) companies to upload new data in the same CSV format as the current software; and (3) multiple staff within each company or outside the company with the company's permission to fill out and review portions of an EQR, though only one person can be editing a particular EQR at any one time.32

30 See, e.g.,EEI at 4; Energy Services Providers at 3; Idaho Power at 3.

31 See, e.g.,Idaho Power at 3; Pacific Gas and Electric at 4-5.

32EEI at 5.

11. EPSA requests that the Commission clarify that the proposed web interface option will be a long-term alternative to the XML option that will not be phased out in favor of the latter.33

33EPSA at 3.

3. Commission Determination

12. We adopt the web interface as one of two new EQR filing options. As explained in the NOPR, this option will minimize the changes for EQR sellers and agents and streamline the filing process by eliminating the need for EQR sellers and agents to first enter or import the data into a software application then send it, via Internet, to the Commission. We are offering this option to make the transition from the current EQR software to the web interface minimally disruptive. We direct Commission staff to continue to be available to answer questions, conduct technical conferences, and post guidance documents on the Commission's Web site as needed.

13. We emphasize that, as explained in the NOPR, the web interface will allow EQR sellers and agents to continue to enter data in much the same way as they currently do: By entering individual fields by hand (an option used primarily by EQR sellers that have little data to report) or by uploading data in CSV format. Also, we note that, except for minor changes, the data elements of the EQR will remain the same.34

34The only proposed changes to the EQR data elements adopted here relate to the addition of a field for the identification of the EQR seller and the elimination of the respondent field.Seediscussioninfrasection III.E. For recent changes to the EQR filing requirements, see Transparency Rule, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,336.

14. We also point out that, in designing the web interface, Commission staff has sought to provide the same, if not better, functionality than is provided in the current EQR software. For example, once one quarter has been filed in the web interface, a copy forward function will allow EQR sellers and agents to copy forward complete sets of identification and contract data and then edit the data to reflect changes in the current quarter.35 Also, an EQR seller will be able to designate more than one EQR agent to input data on its behalf. Finally, the use of a web interface will minimize, if not eliminate, many common EQR filing problems that are due to (1) conflicts between the current EQR software and other software on the EQR seller or agent's computer or (2) issues associated with initiating and supporting the communication functions of the current EQR software.

35To assist in the transition to the web interface option, the EQR seller or agent can import contract data from the Q2 2013 EQR filing made via the current EQR software into the new web interface after the file is revised to accommodate any new required fields.Seediscussioninfra section III.F. However, as under the current EQR software, the web interface will not permit the EQR seller or agent to copy transactiondata forward because the transactions must correspond to the EQR's designated calendar quarter.

15. Finally, we intend to support the web interface option until such time as it is no longer needed.

C. Option 2—XML-Formatted File 1. NOPR Proposal

16. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed a second EQR filing option that allows EQR sellers and agents to file EQR data via XML-formatted files.36 The Commission identified various advantages to the XML option. For example, an XML schema allows EQR sellers and agents to test whether their data is consistent with the filing standards before uploading it to the Commission, thereby improving their ability to comply with the EQR filing requirement and increasing confidence that the Commission receives the intended information.37

36NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 7.

37 Id.

2. Comments

17. Pacific Gas and Electric believes that the XML option is a promising solution.38 Pacific Gas and Electric states that the XML format provides the greatest flexibility for processing large amounts of data and the greatest opportunity to accurately validate data. However, Pacific Gas and Electric notes that converting data to XML format requires a software program, authored in-house or by a vendor, that can create, submit, and store and manage the EQR report.39 Idaho Power supports this filing option if it is similar to the current filing method and is not overly burdensome and/or does not require major changes to Idaho Power's internal systems.40 Other commenters do not object to the XML option if it is voluntary and not the sole means of submission.41 EEI supports allowing companies to switch between the web interface and XML options from one EQR to another.42

38Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

39 Id.at 5.

40Idaho Power at 2.

41 See, e.g.,EEI at 7; Energy Services Providers at 3; EPSA at 4; Idaho Power at 4-5.

42EEI at 7.

3. Commission Determination

18. We adopt the XML option as the second of two new filing options. Thisoption allows EQR sellers and agents to file their EQR data in an XML-formatted file. While we find that allowing EQR sellers and agents to use the XML option offers several advantages, as highlighted by Pacific Gas and Electric, and will facilitate the filing of EQRs, we stress that using the XML option is voluntary. Alternatively, EQR sellers and agents can choose to file via the web interface. An EQR seller may use the web interface to file their EQR for one quarter and use the XML option to file their EQR in another quarter, but an EQR seller cannot use both options to file its EQR in the same quarter.

D. Validation 1. NOPR

19. In the NOPR, the Commission explained that an XML schema includes rules and data checks. This allows EQR sellers and agents to test the consistency of their data with the Commission's filing standards, thereby improving the ability to comply with EQR filing requirements and ensures that the Commission receives the intended information.43 The Commission further noted in the NOPR that these data checks are not available in a CSV file.

43NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 7.

2. Comments

20. Energy Compliance Consulting requests that the Commission make available as soon as possible all of the criteria that the Commission will use to validate an EQR prior to its acceptance for filing.44 Energy Compliance Consulting notes that, contrary to the statement in the posted FAQ document, the draft XML schema posted on the Commission's Web site contains data elements that EQR filers are not currently required to provide.45 Energy Compliance Consulting requests that the Commission explain this discrepancy.46

44Energy Compliance Consulting at 3.

45 Id.at 2-3.

46 Id.at 3.

21. EPSA argues that any new filing method should meet or exceed the validation capabilities of the Visual FoxPro-based EQR software.47 EPSA asserts that EQR users have not been presented with meaningful information on how validation checks will be designed for either the web interface or the XML filing option.48 EEI believes that the web interface will allow companies to upload, edit, and check for errors in the data before actually filing the EQR; provide pre-filing error checks and validations for completeness and compliance with filing requirements; and provide error messages to allow companies to correct problems before filing their EQRs.49 EEI and Links Technology Solutions ask that the Commission provide a permanent testing facility (sandbox), like the eTariff sandbox test site, so that filers can check the basic construction of their XML files and perform basic types of data checks.50

47EPSA at 4-5.

48EPSA at 5.

49EEI at 5.

50 See, e.g.,EEI at 8; Links Technology Solutions at 2.

22. Based on information provided during the technical conference, Pacific Gas and Electric argues that providing email notification for any validation errors encountered during upload may cause a significant delay in correcting errors and providing timely EQRs.51 Pacific Gas and Electric claims that using email messages reduces EQR filers' ability to be quickly alerted of validation errors, which undercuts the Commission's effort to create a new system on par with, or better than, the Visual FoxPro-based EQR software.52 Pacific Gas and Electric suggests the web-based system should (1) include on-screen error reports that are interactive (with links to the error records) or a user-friendly form (like a spreadsheet) that allows the EQR filer to immediately and accurately address validation errors, and (2) allow batch corrections to the error records.53 Pacific Gas & Electric notes that generally accepted data validation rules, which require the validation process to stop when a critical error is detected, leave open the possibility that after receiving an error notification and remedying a set of errors, an EQR filer could receive further error messages every time the validation routine stops because a critical error is detected.54 Pacific Gas and Electric is concerned about the impact of this process on timely EQR filing.55

51Pacific Gas and Electric at 7.

52 Id.

53 Id.

54 Id.

55 Id.at 7-8.

23. Pacific Gas and Electric also states that, while it generally supports the Commission's proposal to alter the EQR user authentication methodology, it is concerned about who will have access to the sandbox.56 Pacific Gas and Electric asserts that restricting access to only those people authorized to file on behalf of a client, as suggested at the technical conference, will reduce the filing entities' current ability to allow anyone within a given company to download a copy of the current EQR distributed software, load data, and run validation checks to test some or all of its filing data.57 Thus, Pacific Gas and Electric requests that the Commission provide authentication protocols in the new system that address these concerns.58

56 Id.at 8.

57 Id.

58 Id.

3. Commission Determination

24. We find that the validation process in the web interface and XML-format options will be similar to or better than the validation process in the current EQR software. We further find that the validation processes strike an appropriate balance between the needs identified by commenters and the Commission's resources. We appreciate Energy Compliance Consulting's request that all the criteria which will be used to validate an EQR filing prior to its acceptance be made available as soon as possible. The validation criteria are currently under development, and the Commission will make these available to the public as soon as they are complete. As for the discrepancy between the posted draft XML schema and FAQ document, we note that the draft XML schema mistakenly included additional data elements that were not included in the NOPR.

25. Under both of the new EQR filing options, EQR sellers and agents will be able to log into their eRegistration accounts, load data and run the validation check. Once an EQR is submitted, the EQR seller or agent that submitted the EQR will receive the following three emails: (1) A receipt email that acknowledges that the EQR has been received; (2) a validation email that will list any business rule errors, such as listing a transaction under a contract without entering the contract in the contract section; and (3) an acceptance/rejection email stating that the EQR is accepted if all validations are passed or is rejected if any validations fail. The EQR seller and all of its designated EQR agents will receive the validation email and the acceptance/rejection email. The validation email will provide a list of the errors that are contained in submitted data. The system will review the entire submission prior to creating and sending the validation report. Due to the number of potential occurrences, the report may not list all instances of the error, but the EQR seller or agent will be alerted that that type of error has occurred. Once the EQR seller or agent has found and corrected all errors in the submission, the EQR data will be accepted for filing.

26. In addition, both filing options will include a “Test Only” option sothat EQR sellers and agents can submit their filing for data validation prior to final submission. With respect to the web interface option, we also have taken steps to address EPSA's request for in-time validation checks by including some validation checks that will appear on-screen as the EQR seller or agent inputs the data. These validation checks are the same as or similar to the validation checks that appear when an EQR seller or agent uses the current EQR software. For example, an on-screen error message will appear if a field is left empty that must be filled, or if an alphabetical character is entered in a numeric field. After the EQR seller or agent submits its filing, it will receive a validation email that will provide business logic and data format errors and line numbers within the body of the email.

27. Pacific Gas and Electric expressed concern that the issuance of validation emails after the occurrence of each critical error may slow the filing process. We are not able to avoid the additional time that the detection of multiple critical errors will add to the filing process. Validating for business logic errors after a filing is submitted will allow the Commission to maintain the system during high volumes of filings. However, we note that EQR sellers and agents will have the option to run a data validation check prior to submitting the EQR to the Commission using the “Test Only” feature, which should help alleviate Pacific Gas and Electric's concerns. Moreover, the Commission expects that the new EQR filing process will be able to process revised EQR data more quickly and efficiently because it will have the ability to process only revised data, rather than needing to process the entire data set to overwrite the previously submitted data, as currently is the case. By decreasing the amount of processing capability needed for data updates, the Commission will increase the available computer capacity for processing the simultaneous filing of EQRs, resulting in quicker processing of both EQRs and revised EQRs. We also encourage EQR sellers and agents to submit EQRs early in the filing period, which starts on the first day after the end of the quarter providing an entire month to validate the data.

28. With respect to the XML option, we do not find an eTariff type sandbox is necessary because the ability to test an EQR filing is integrated into the new system. Specifically, XML files can be imported into the Web interface, where the EQR seller or agent can select the “Test Only” option to receive the validation email for that EQR filing. Additionally, EQR sellers and agents may use one of many XML parser programs available free on-line to check whether their XML file is consistent with the EQR XML schema. The parser will check for data formatting errors, which an EQR seller or agent can then correct. If there are business logic errors that were undetected by the parser, a validation email will notify the EQR seller and agent contacts.

29. We decline to adopt Pacific Gas and Electric's request to include the ability to perform batch corrections to records that contain errors. The current EQR software does not provide a way to perform batch corrections; and we are not persuaded to include that capability in the new filing options. This correction method could arbitrarily and incorrectly change the contents of an EQR. We note, however, that EQR sellers and agents who intend to file by uploading CSV or XML files can develop their own batch correction processes to respond to validation errors.

E. Company Registration System 1. NOPR Proposal

30. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed to replace the PIN number identification system with the Company Registration System used for eTariff filings.59 The Commission explained that the PIN system is part of the EQR software, and as part of the transition away from this software application, the Commission must provide a new manner to identify EQR sellers. The Commission stated that, as part of the development of the eTariff system, the Commission directed each publicly regulated company to file its tariffs, rate schedules, jurisdictional contracts, and other jurisdictional agreements with a Company Identifier. Accordingly, the Commission stated that it does not anticipate that the use of a Company Identifier in the EQR filing process will create an undue burden for publicly regulated companies that file their Commission-jurisdictional tariffs and agreements because they already have Company Identifiers. The Commission also stated that it did not anticipate that the use of the Company Identifier will be unduly burdensome for an EQR filer that does not have an existing Company Identifier because the registration process on the Commission's Web site is straightforward and no more difficult than the current filer identification process. The Commission also noted that an advantage of using the Company Identifier for EQR filings is that it will make filer identification consistent with other filings.60

59NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 9.

60 Id.

2. Comments

31. EEI supports the Commission's plan to continue to accommodate a wide variety of EQR filing arrangements, including (1) filings submitted on behalf of respondents that are not registered companies (i.e., entities that do not have Company Identifiers); (2) a single respondent filing on behalf of multiple sellers; (3) a single seller submitting multiple EQRs for the same quarter through different respondents; (4) a seller that consists of multiple registered companies or an unregistered service company; and (5) law-firm personnel and others filing as agents for respondents.61 However, EEI states that the Commission may need to provide additional flexibility as to individuals and entities that can register and obtain a Company Identifier using the eRegistration system.62 EEI asks the Commission to allow filings by anyone who has the necessary Company Identifier and password without limiting filings to a pre-approved list of specific individuals.63 EEI urges the Commission to post instructions for company registration similar to the instructions that the Commission posted for company registration for eTariff.64

61EEI at 3.

62 Id.at 4. This document is located on the Commission's Web site athttp://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/company-registration-instruct.pdf, and the current version is dated October 6, 2011.

63 Id.

64 Id.(citing FERC Secretary of the Commission, eTariff Instructions for Company Registration (2009),http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/company-registration-instruct.pdf(The Commission up-dated the instructions on October 6, 2011)).

32. Based on information provided at the technical conference, EPSA asks the Commission to reconsider requiring companies to designate in advance of making a filing who is authorized to make EQR filings.65 EPSA states that its members have cautioned that requiring companies to designate in advance who is permitted to file their EQRs may prove more unwieldy than anticipated.66 EPSA states that its members own numerous project companies and that the administrative burden associated with initially designating agents and back-up agents on what could be over fifty company registrations and changing each of those delegations in anticipation of staffing changes or in case of emergencies is unnecessary.67 EPSA further states thatthere are already security protections in place to ensure an authorized person is making filings with the Commission.68 Finally, EPSA asserts that, because Commission staff's approval of modifications to a company's registration can take up to 24 hours to become effective, a company's filing may become untimely.69 EPSA states that, in the eTariff context, where delegations are not needed and thus modifications to company registration are not routine, the modification of company registrations has delayed filings.70

65EPSA at 5.

66 Id.

67 Id.

68 Id.at 6.

69 Id.

70 Id.

3. Commission Determination

33. The Commission adopts the requirement for EQR sellers to identify themselves using a Company Identifier. As explained in the NOPR, the PIN system is part of the current EQR software. Therefore, as part of the transition away from the EQR software, the Commission must provide a new manner to identify EQR sellers. Instead of building a new identification system for submitting EQRs, we will utilize the company registration system that was created for eTariff. Using the company registration system to identify EQR sellers allows the Commission to make filer identification consistent with other Commission filings and is familiar to public utilities that use eTariff. Under the new EQR filing system, all EQR sellers will be identified in EQR filings by their Company Identifier.71

71The current PIN system requires an EQR seller to share its PIN and password with all individuals that it wants to allow to file on its behalf, and we do not consider this to be a safe practice. We believe that this creates the potential for unanticipated problems and that it is not the most secure method of filing.

34. To make an EQR filing, the EQR seller will request a Company Identifier through the Commission's Company Registration System.72 The EQR seller will be able to maintain a list of eRegistered EQR agents whom the EQR seller has authorized to submit EQR filings on its behalf.73 An EQR seller can designate multiple individuals as its agents. The EQR agent will use its eRegistration account to log onto FERC Online,74 and select from a list of EQR seller(s) that have designated the individual as EQR agent.

72 See http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/company-reg.asp. Many EQR sellers have a Company Identifier and do not need to request a new Company Identifier. If an EQR seller is not sure whether it already has a Company Identifier, it can check the list of Company Identifiers on the Commission's Web site athttp://www.ferc.gov/industries/electric/gen-info/reg-ent.asp.

73An individual must eRegister before an EQR seller can designate that person as an EQR agent.See http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eregistration.asp.

74 See http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ferconline.asp.

35. We understand that requiring EQR sellers to designate agents that have eRegistered is more burdensome than the current system. However, after the initial burden of designating EQR agents, we anticipate that it will be minimally burdensome for an EQR seller to manage its EQR agent list. For instance, since an EQR seller may designate an unlimited number of agents, if one agent is unable to file in a given quarter, another agent will be able to make the filing. Finally, in response to EPSA's concern, Commission staff will not review changes that a company makes to the list of EQR agents associated with its Company Identifier account. These changes will be instantaneous.75

75We note that Commission staff does review applications for a Company Identifier account and that review can take up to several days.

36. We note that the new identification system will provide an electronic record of the EQR agent(s) that have filed an EQR on behalf of an EQR seller. Accordingly, we will eliminate the respondent fields from the EQR data dictionary because it no longer provides useful information to the Commission or the public. We are aware that some companies use the respondent field to indicate that a service company or parent company is filing on behalf of several operating companies or affiliates that are the EQR sellers. While a parent company or service company may file EQRs on behalf of EQR sellers, an individual will need to be eRegistered and designated as an agent of the EQR sellers. The designated agent may then file an EQR on behalf of the EQR seller. EEI also suggests that an EQR seller could be a service company. We note that a service company may be listed as an EQR seller if the service company is authorized to sell power under Part 35 of the Commission's regulations, or if a public utility's tariff authorizes the service company to act on its behalf.76

76 SeeOrder No. 2001-G, 120 FERC ¶ 61,270 at PP 10-11 (“the agent may be identified as the Seller if the company's tariff authorizes the agent to make the sales.”).

F. Implementation and Compliance 1. NOPR Proposal

37. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed that implementation of any changes to the process for filing EQRs will apply to EQR filings beginning with the Q3 2013 EQR, providing data for July through September 2013.77 The Commission stated that implementing the changes within that time period should provide EQR sellers with sufficient time to weigh the two options and file their Q3 2013 EQR in a timely manner.

77NOPR, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 32,689 at P 11.

2. Comments

38. Some commenters request that the Commission extend the compliance date.78 For example, EEI requests that the compliance date be at least one full year after the Commission issues a Final Rule and the EQR filing web interface is pre-tested, corrected, and available for general use before withdrawing the current FoxPro-based software filing option.79 EEI states that this time would give companies a chance to test the new web interface and iron out any problems before the current FoxPro-based software is no longer an option.80

78 See, e.g.,EEI at 8; Links Technology Solutions at 2; Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

79EEI at 8.

80EEI at 8.

39. As for the XML filing option, commenters argue that it takes at least 12 months to develop and test software to file in XML and to train staff on using the software.81 Pacific Gas and Electric states that software vendors cannot design and offer products to customers until they have a final XML schema document.82 Pacific Gas and Electric asserts that it is only after vendors make their products available that customers can evaluate and purchase products, and begin retooling their internal business processes to accommodate the new EQR requirements.83 Thus, Pacific Gas and Electric requests that the Commission give regulated entities one year from the date a Final Rule is published in theFederal Registerto make the necessary internal data collection changes and to acquire, install, and test the software to file new-system EQR submittals.84 Similarly, EEI requests that the Commission provide a full year after it issues a final XML Data Structure and XML Data Values, holds a technical conference to discuss the XML filing option, and issues a Final Rule in this proceeding before withdrawing the current software.85

81 See, e.g.,EEI at 8; Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

82Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

83Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

84Pacific Gas and Electric at 6.

85EEI at 8.

40. Several commenters assert that the Commission should conclude any other EQR-related rulemakings before changing the EQR filing process so that filers do not need to modify their systemmultiple times.86 In addition, EEI also states that the Commission will need to keep the web interface and XML schema up-to-date to accommodate any future changes to the EQR, providing adequate notice of such changes and time for EQR filers and software vendors to adopt the changes.87

86 See, e.g.,EEI at 9-10; Energy Compliance Consulting at 2; EPSA at 6, 9-10.

87EEI at 10.

41. EEI and Idaho Power recommend that the Commission allow filers to file their EQR in the current software and proposed new web interface during the transition period.88 Idaho Power recommends that the Commission do so for a minimum of two reporting periods after the proposed implementation date listed in the NOPR.89 EEI asserts that this time would ensure that filers will not be penalized because of problems with the web interface or XML option.90 Idaho Power states that this grace period will give filers time to transition, train, and modify existing internal systems.91 In the alternative, Idaho Power recommends and supports thorough testing by a representative sample of filers prior to the proposed implementation date in the NOPR to identify and correct system issues.92

88 See, e.g.,EEI at 9; Idaho Power at 3-4.

89Idaho Power at 3.

90EEI at 9.

91Idaho Power at 3.

92 Id.at 4.

42. Several commenters request that the Commission hold a second technical conference that includes a live demonstration of the new filing options.93 Idaho Power states that Commission staff should provide a thorough live demonstration of the proposed web interface, including but not limited to walking through the steps of a complete start to finish EQR filing.94 Energy Compliance Consulting states that the demonstration should show more completely how filers will interact with the software and include the submission of very large files and files with numerous errors so that prospective users will know how the system will present those errors and what the time will be compared to the current EQR software.95 EEI states that the demonstration should be available by computers and should accommodate questions and provide answers in real time, similar to an EQR user group conference call.96 Pacific Gas and Electric requests that the Commission schedule another technical conference in the near future to further present system functionalities and capabilities because a Final Rule in this matter may establish a level of certainty about the technical functions and behavior of the new system on both the server and client side of the equation.97

93 See, e.g.,EEI at 6; Energy Compliance Consulting at 4; Idaho Power at 4; Pacific Gas and Electric at 9.

94Idaho Power at 4.

95Energy Compliance Consulting at 4.

96EEI at 7.

97Pacific Gas and Electric at 9.

43. EEI asserts that filers and vendors may have questions about adopting the structure and values for use in filing EQR data in XML format.98 Therefore, EEI encourages the Commission to hold a conference call/meeting to discuss the XML option only so that the Commission can answer questions about use of the data structure and values, correct problems, and help avoid errors in use of the option.99

98EEI at 7.

99 Id.at 7-8.

44. Some commenters recommend that the Commission work with companies and software vendors to test the proposed new web interface before it goes public.100 EEI states that problems may include missing functions that the software currently provides, inability to upload data required in various columns or rows, errors in how the web interface handles data being uploaded, or unclear filing instructions.101 EEI encourages the Commission to ensure that the new web interface is fully tested for anomalies and corrected to remove problems before it is made available for general use.102 EEI offers to ask for volunteers for this effort from among its members.103

100 See, e.g.,EEI at 6; Energy Compliance Consulting at 5.

101EEI at 6.

102 Id.at 5-6.

103 Id.at 6.

45. CAISO and Idaho Power state that, based on the technical conference and FAQ document, it appears as though the copy forward function will not be available for the initial Q3 2013 EQR filing so that respondents will be responsible for transferring all data to the new web interface.104 CAISO and Idaho Power assert that requiring respondents to enter all of the pre-existing data manually rather than through an automated procedure would be burdensome and strain filers' time and resources.105 Idaho Power requests that the Commission develop an automated method, or provide detailed instructions on how to load or transfer the existing data from the FoxPro system into the new system for the initial web interface filing.106 Similarly, CAISO argues that the Commission should be responsible for populating the database that underlies the new web interface with the data from the EQR respondents' Q2 2013 EQR.107 CAISO asserts that the Commission already will possess all of the data submitted by respondents for Q2 2013 EQR, and thus be better situated to perform the necessary data transfer.108 CAISO also asserts that it is concerned that errors may be introduced into the data if the process of incorporating previously submitted data is made more complicated than the current copy forward method.109

104CAISO at 4; Idaho Power at 4.

105CAISO at 3; Idaho Power at 4.

106Idaho Power at 4.

107CAISO at 3-4.

108 Id.at 3.

109 Id.at 4-5.

46. EEI states that the proposed changes to the regulatory text are too ambiguous, particularly the reference to “as otherwise provided to the public” because it does not specify where and how the Commission will provide such guidance.110 EEI also suggests that the Commission publish notices in