Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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)-formatted
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.
3. The purpose of the EQR is to
The EQR allows public utilities to fulfill their responsibility under section 205(c)
4. Prior to the issuance of Order No. 2001, the Commission required all public utilities to file in
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 (
5. On June 21, 2012, the Commission issued a NOPR in this proceeding to propose changes to the EQR electronic filing process.
6. In the NOPR, the Commission stated that, pursuant to the Commission's regulations,
7. Commenters understand the technical limitations of the existing software and the Commission's decision to discontinue it.
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 issue
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.
10. Commenters generally support the web interface option as long as the transition from the current filing process is not overly difficult or costly.
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.
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.
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.
15. Finally, we intend to support the web interface option until such time as it is no longer needed.
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.
17. Pacific Gas and Electric believes that the XML option is a promising solution.
18. We adopt the XML option as the second of two new filing options. This
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.
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.
21. EPSA argues that any new filing method should meet or exceed the validation capabilities of the Visual FoxPro-based EQR software.
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.
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.
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 so
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.
30. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed to replace the PIN number identification system with the Company Registration System used for eTariff filings.
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.
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.
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.
34. To make an EQR filing, the EQR seller will request a Company Identifier through the Commission's Company Registration System.
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.
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.
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.
38. Some commenters request that the Commission extend the compliance date.
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.
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 system
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.
42. Several commenters request that the Commission hold a second technical conference that includes a live demonstration of the new filing options.
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.
44. Some commenters recommend that the Commission work with companies and software vendors to test the proposed new web interface before it goes public.
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.
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.