On June 21, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to eliminate the current Electronic Quarterly Reports (EQR) system used by public utilities to report to FERC required electricity data on a quarterly basis. FERC proposes that the EQR system be replaced by two options for submitting data that are web-based and not dependent on special software.

Approximately ten years ago, in Order No. 2001, FERC began requiring FERC-regulated public utilities to satisfy their Federal Power Act obligation to file jurisdictional contracts, rates, terms, and conditions, by using an electronic filing system instead of paper. Under the current system, regulated utilities must electronically report for each calendar quarter (1) a summary of the terms and conditions in all agreements to provide jurisdictional services (including all wholesale power sales and transmission service); and (2) transaction information for all wholesale power sales and reassignments of transmission capacity.

FERC developed special EQR software that was required to be downloaded by every entity having a reporting obligation. In order to file a quarterly report, the entity must open its local version of the EQR software (which only runs on Windows machines), update and add information, and then upload the information to FERC using a FERC-issued PIN number.

FERC has now recognized that technological changes and software limitations are making the current filing process “outmoded, ineffective, and unsustainable.” Accordingly, FERC proposes to change over to a new system for filing quarterly reports beginning with data from the third quarter, 2013.

The new system FERC proposes would have two options for the filer to choose from. In the first option, data would be entered on a web interface on the Commission’s website that would allow filers to continue to use a comma-delimited text format that they now may be using. FERC believes this option would 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 separate software application. Under the second option, EQR filers can elect to file data via XML-formatted files. FERC believes some filers will find this method has advantages over comma-delimited format. FERC also proposes to dispense with the PIN number for submitting quarterly reports, and just use the utility’s FERC-issued “Company Identifier” that is required for making tariff filings.

FERC will hold a conference to demonstrate the proposed new systems on July 11, 2012. FERC is accepting written comments on the proposed rule until 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.