September 2022, Vol. 249, No. 9


FERC Rate Change Posting Proposal Controversial

(P&GJ) — Responding to a June 2021 petition from interstate pipeline customers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed upgraded website posting requirements when pipelines file for a Section 4 rate change.

The American Gas Association, American Public Gas Association and Natural Gas Supply Association urged FERC in the 2021 petition to update its filing procedures to require the submission of all statements and schedules in native format with all cells, links and formulas intact when a natural gas company files for a change in rates or charges.   

CenterPoint Energy Resources Corporation, National Grid Gas Delivery Companies and Exelon Corporation filed general comments in support of the petition.  

National Grid argued that when a natural gas pipeline does not file in native format, a party’s only recourse is either the time-consuming process of raising the matter in protests and waiting for FERC to direct the filer to provide all statements, schedules and workpapers in native format and subsequently the pipeline’s compliance with those directives or pursuing this necessary information even later in the process through discovery.   

In mid-May 2022, FERC published a proposed rule that tracked the shipper’s petition request. Currently, pipelines filing National Gas Act (NGA) Section 4 rate cases are required to submit spreadsheets in native format for Statements I, J and a portion of H, including intact formulas. For other statements, schedules and workpapers, native format is preferred but not required. FERC says its conservative estimate is that there is an annual total of eight general Section 4 rate cases.  

Requiring pipelines to submit Section 4 to FERC, which would post it on a dedicated, easy-to-use website, is unlikely to go over well with interstate pipelines. They may not have significant objections to filing of some documents in native format with existing links and formulas intact.   

Many, like Energy Transfer LP, already do so. But Kevin Erwin, associate general counsel for Energy Transfer, argues the proposed rule takes the “additional, unjust and unreasonable step” of requiring a pipeline to create links and formulas in successive documents even if the pipeline did not need or use those links and formulas when it prepared and filed its rate case.  

He added, “Requiring a pipeline to specially create and file links or formulas it did not need or use to prepare and file its rate case is arbitrary and capricious and does not constitute reasoned decision-making because it would unreasonably shift litigation costs and burdens to interstate natural gas pipelines.”  

But Public Citizen, the Ralph Nader-affiliated group, wants FERC to go even further than the shippers want. It wants FERC to publish Section 4 information on the FERC website, not restrict the information to company websites.   

Tyson Slocum, energy program director, Public Citizen Inc., referenced the web sites of Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, ANR and Williams, and attempted to illustrate how difficult it is for interested parties to access from those company’s websites the information FERC requires in conjunction with a Section 4 filing.   

Slocum wrote, “Some pipeline companies’ information is impossible to locate, while others keep the required information on domains and websites separate from their primary corporate website, making it difficult for the general public to locate the information as required by FERC.” 


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