On July 18, 2019, FERC issued a final rule (“Order No. 860”) revising its data collection and reporting requirements for market-based rate (“MBR”) sellers (“MBR Sellers”). FERC will require MBR Sellers to provide certain information about corporate relationships and affiliations through a “relational database” that FERC will implement over the next year and a half. Among other things, FERC adopted reforms to (1) revise the scope of ownership information provided by MBR Sellers in their market-based rate filings; (2) change the information to be included in an asset appendix; (3) require MBR Sellers to submit monthly updates to their relational database; (4) require MBR Sellers to file quarterly notices of change in status, instead of 30 days after the change in status; and (5) remove the existing requirement that MBR Sellers submit corporate organization charts. Notably, FERC declined to adopt its proposal requiring MBR Sellers to submit “Connected Entity” information.

On July 21, 2016, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Ruling (“NOPR”) proposing changes to streamline and reduce the burden of FERC’s information collection requirements (see July 26, 2016 edition of WER). Among the proposed changes, FERC introduced the concept of the development of a “relational database,” which is a database that contains multiple data tables related to one another via unique identifiers and is structured to allow for easy data retrieval while avoiding inconsistencies and redundancies. FERC said that this database would allow for the automatic generation of asset appendices and organizational charts of MBR Sellers, thereby eliminating the need for companies to submit organizational charts to FERC. FERC also presented numerous changes to its data collection and reporting requirements and revised its proposal from a prior proposed rulemaking to collect information on ownership, employee, debt, and contractual connections, referred to as “Connected Entity” information.

In Order No. 860, FERC adopted and amended a number of the NOPR’s proposed changes, including the creation of a relational database. According to FERC, the new “relational database construct modernizes the Commission’s data collection processes, eliminates duplications, and renders information collected through its [MBR] program usable and accessible for the Commission.” In particular, FERC adopted or amended requirements for MBR Sellers to:

  • submit information into the relational database in XML format, which will allow the database to produce retrievable asset appendices and indicative screens, identifiable through serial numbers;
  • submit information on any assets that are owned or controlled by affiliates without MBR authority; however, MBR Sellers will not be required to report assets into the relational database that are owned by its affiliates with MBR authority;
  • input into the relational database on their generation assets, long-term firm sales, unit-specific power purchase agreements, and whether they have transmission facilities covered by a tariff in a specific balancing authority area;
  • identify their owners who have passive ownership interests;
  • identify their ultimate upstream affiliates;
  • submit monthly relational database updates on the 15th day of each month following the occurrence of any reportable change to relational database information; and
  • file notices of change in status on a quarterly basis, instead of 30 days after the change in status occurred.

FERC also adopted the NOPR’s proposal to post on FERC’s website a dictionary that would define the framework for MBR Sellers to follow when submitting information.

FERC declined to adopt the NOPR’s proposal that would have required MBR Sellers and entities trading virtual or holding financial transmission rights to collect and submit information on their “Connected Entities.” Commissioner Richard Glick dissented from FERC’s decision not to require the submission of Connected Entity information, stating that such information is crucial to combatting market manipulation, and that declining to adopt the requirement will hinder FERC’s efforts to detect and deter market manipulation.

Order No. 860 will become effective on October 1, 2020, but MBR Sellers will have until close of business on February 1, 2021 to make their baseline submissions into the relational database.

A copy of the final rule is available here.