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Creating FERC-Compliant eTariff Filings

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has established a complex set of requirements for eTariff filings, leaving many filers feeling overwhelmed. With numerous codes, metadata, and associations to navigate, ensuring compliance can be a daunting task. However, understanding the purpose and proper application of these elements is crucial for a successful filing. This post aims to break down the key components and provide clarity for filers.

FERC established various codes and metadata requirements to determine how the filing and tariff records will be treated once they are submitted. These specifications ensure consistency and facilitate efficient processing within FERC's systems. So, let’s discuss a few ways to ensure you are setting the proper metadata in your filing.

Filing Codes

FERC established 8 filing categories for each of the different industry programs (electric, oil, power administration). The two gas programs have one additional category for suspension motion type filings.

These categories provide a framework for filers to classify their submissions based on the nature of the filing. The filing categories include:

·       New: Signifies a tariff being introduced to FERC for the first time.

·       Refiled: Used when resubmitting a previously rejected tariff.

·       Compliance: Typically used when responding to a FERC Order Letter.

·       Amendment: Used to update a tariff record currently pending with FERC.

·       Motion: Relates to a settlement in a proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge.

·       Withdraw: Used to withdraw a pending tariff filing.

·       Report: Used for informational filings.

·       Cancel: Used to cancel a tariff record or entire tariff title.

For each of the categories, there are only a few filing type codes to choose from. So, if the filing you are submitting falls under one of the eight categories, you have instantly narrowed down the choices of filing codes to a select few.

The most common filing codes include the “New Company’s Tariff (initial Baseline), which  signifies that the tariff is being introduced to FERC for the first time. If you are responding to a FERC Order Letter, then “Compliance Filing” is typically used, unless the order letter directs the filer to prepare a filing with a specific filing code. The “ALJ Settlement” filing code is used when the filing relates to a settlement in a proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge. The “Amendment to Pending” filing can only be used when updating, fixing, or refiling records that are currently in pending status with FERC. The “Deficiency” filing code is typically instructed to by FERC through an Order letter when they are looking for more information and the tariff record is currently in “tolled” status.  When making just a regular update to a tariff record, “Rate Schedule Change Other Than Rate Increase” filing code is the one. Lastly, there are two cancellation type filing codes. One has the word “partial” in the name, which means it will cancel an individual tariff record. The other contains the word “complete” in the title, which will cancel the entire tariff title including all tariff records.

 

Associating a Filing

When to use an associated filing set up is another common question from users. The best way to understand associating two filings is when a sub-docket is needed. This means a filing that was previously filed with FERC is now getting a related filing in the same docket. When a sub-docket is needed the filer will link the two filings together by assigning the previous filing ID as the associated filing identifier in the new filing.

Docket assignment in eTariff is automatic. So, when an associated filing ID is present in the XML, the new filing is automatically assigned to the same docket as the previous filing, but with a sub docket number. Quality eTariff software, like Systrends, will store dockets for each filing, and track how filings are associated with each other.

Associating two filing IDs is what FERC calls Filing Level Association. When tariff records are pending or in tolled status the filer will need to set up Record Level Association in addition to filing level association. This type of association is more complex but just as important. When record level association is present in the XML, FERCs system will treat the tariff records slightly different than a regular submission.

 

Record Level Association - OBE

When records have a pending status with FERC, this means they were filed, but FERC has not yet reviewed or acted on the submission. During the pending stage filers can fix any part of the filing information, tariff language, or attachments that contain various issues. When updating a pending tariff submission, the filing code to be used is “amendment to pending filing”. The word pending in the title means you are fixing something that FERC has not yet ruled on. When an issue with a tariff record is noticed after submission you likely do not want FERC to review or rule on that record version because of the errors it contains. This is when record level association is set up in the filing.

To set up “record level association”, the filer needs to link the tariff record ID from the original filing to the new filing. Similar to filing level association, but now at the record level. The reason to set up record level association is to tell FERC - do not rule on the original submission because a correction has been submitted replacing the original, and only review and rule on the  updated version.

If you have seen the status of a tariff record listed as “OBE” it means FERC did not rule on the OBE version because it was updated with a corrected version, using “Amendment to Pending Filing” or “Deficiency” filing code.

How to set up Record Level Association will vary by software, but Systrends software makes it very easy. If the user imports the tariff record from the previous filing, it will set up the record level association in the XML, telling FERC to over-write the original submission.

Deficiency filings directed by FERC in an order letter should also be set up with “record level association”. Deficiency filings are needed when FERC is requesting more information. FERC rules your filing deficient and sets the status of the tariff record to “Tolled”. A deficiency filing acts just like amendment to pending, where it will update the tolled status record to OBE and makes a new submission with the updated information.

If the original filing is a 205 filing, and is being updated with an amendment type filing, the same effective date can be used but the comment period will reset. When using the same effective date in an amendment filing, the “Record Effective Priority Order” field must be increased.

Tariff Record Metadata

FERC established several “metadata” fields to indicate what is happening with the Tariff Records in each submission. Some metadata fields are updated each time a tariff record is submitted. Some never change.

Change Type: tells FERC if the tariff record is new (never submitted to FERC before), being updated, cancelled, withdrawn, or being sent as pro forma. In most cases a tariff record is going to be submitted with a change type of “CHANGE”, meaning the record is being updated with new language.

Version: begins with 0.0.0 and each time the record is submitted the version will increase the first digit by one (i.e. 1.0.0). Some amendment filings may utilize the middle digit (1.1.0) to accurately represent that version 1 is being amended. How you choose to set the version is up to the filer. There are only 3 validation rules for tariff record version:

(a) is a version number present

(b) is it in the correct X.Y.Z format

(c) is it a duplicate version number for that record?

Proposed effective date is often a known date indicated in the transmittal letter. FERC will make the tariff record with the most recent effective date as the effective version.

Effective Priority Order used to tell FERC which tariff version should be effective when a record is submitted multiple times with the same proposed effective date. The one with the highest effective priority number will be the one to be effective.

Priority order is used in amendment and deficiency filings when a correction with the same effective date is being submitted. FERC will end up with two versions of the tariff record with the same effective date, one will need a higher priority order number to indicate which one should be set as the effective version. The amended version should have a higher priority order number than the original version submitted.

Option code: is almost never used except used when a filer needs to submit two versions of the same tariff record in one filing and is asking FERC to choose which one to accept. This should not be confused with submitting the same tariff record multiple times with different edits taking effect on different dates - the option code would remain the same for both versions. In certain situations, a filer may need to propose two or more different language options, letting FERC choose the one to be accepted.

Narrative: is categorized as a metadata field but is more of an optional text field to include more information about the tariff record that is not part of the title or description. This field can change in each filing as needed.

Collation value: metadata field that determines the location of the record in the tariff outline. The lower the collation value assigned to a tariff record the higher up in the tariff outline it is located. The larger collation values assignments go to the bottom of the tariff.

Record ID: never changes for a tariff record once a number assigned, it cannot not be repeated in the same Tariff Title.

Parent record IDs are assigned to sub-records that are related and located below the parent.  Many refer to these as a “child” or indented records. The parent record ID is part of the XML for every child or sub-record. If the parent ID is not listed in the XML it will change the location of the child record, causing it to no longer be indented or located underneath the parent.

When creating any eTariff filing for FERC, remember these few simple rules:

1.       Determine the filing code. Look at the 8 categories of filings and determine which category it falls under, and chose the filing code from that category

2.       Determine if Filing Level Association is needed – a Sub-Docket

3.       Determine if Record association is needed

a.       For all Amendment and Deficiency filings

b.       For some types of compliance filings – (i.e. when amending a previous compliance)

4.       Update Metadata fields accordingly

a.       Change Type – NEW, CANCEL, CHANGE, WITHDRAW, PRO FORMA

b.       Effective Date – indicated in the transmittal letter

c.       Priority Code – increase when submitting the same effective date (amendment and deficiency)

d.       Option Code – is always “A” unless submitting more than one option

e.       Narrative – optional

f.         Document – recommend word or rtf version of the tariff because it is sent to the eTariff Viewer on FERCs website.

g.        Record ID, Parent ID and Collation value should never change in a filing after it has been submitted the first time with its assigned values.

 

Attachments (Supporting Documents)

The last part of a FERC compliant filing is creating the attachments portion of the XML. Attachments include the Transmittal, a clean and marked version of tariff records and any supporting documentation like testimony, exhibits, and appendices. Every filing must have a transmittal (or cover letter) with the attachment reference of “transmittal” in the XML. Most filings require a clean and marked version of the tariff as attachments. All attachments in the XML are sent to eLibrary, which is why a clean and marked are loaded in the attachments section, even if they were included in the tariff record metadata.

Once all attachments are uploaded and tagged with the proper attachment reference, the XML is completed and can be sent to FERC as an eTariff submission in eFiling.

 

 

Your FERC eTariff Compliance Playbook

If you look at a tariff filing having 3 separate parts, its easy to understand what is needed. The first part is the filing information – filing Date, filing code, filing level association. The second part is the tariff record(s). Decide if the record is new, being updated, or needs to be canceled. Remember to always increase the version, set the effective date, and upload the updated text document for each record. The rest of the metadata pretty much remains unchanged. The attachments are the final portion and will always have at least a transmittal letter.

With these strategies and a solid understanding of the FERC's system, you'll be navigating the eTariff filing landscape like a pro. Creating FERC Compliant eTariff filings won't be a source of stress, but a manageable challenge you're ready to conquer.



Creating FERC-Compliant eTariff Filings

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