On September 21, 2012, FERC issued Order 768, requiring large, non-FERC-jurisdictional utilities (FERC refers to such entities as “non-public utilities.”) to file FERC Electric Quarterly Reports (EQRs), beginning with the third quarter 2013 filing due October 31, 2013. Order 768 also increased the types of data filed in the EQR for all filers. The EQR is a complex data collection that requires significant lead time and a thorough understanding of the requirements to ensure that utilities’ information systems capture the required data in a manner compliant with FERC’s EQR Data Dictionary, and that those data can be downloaded in a format that will successfully upload into FERC’s EQR system.
The information on this page is intended to help non-public utilities prepare for the requirements of Order 768.
Which utilities meet the threshold FERC set as the requirement to file EQRs?
Any non-public utility with over 4,000,000 MWh in wholesale sales will have to file EQRs. (ERCOT sales are excluded.) Specifically, the Commission exempted, under the de minimis market presence threshold, non-public utilities that make 4,000,000 MWh or less of annual wholesale sales (based on an average of the wholesale sales it made in the preceding three years). The Commission will use wholesale sales, as reported in EIA Form 861, “Sales for Resale,” to calculate the de minimis market presence threshold.
The 2010 and 2011 EIA Form 861 wholesale sales for the largest non-public utilities are attached. Utilities will average the sales reported in 2010 and 2011 with the sales to be reported for 2012 to determine whether they surpass the de minimis threshold
What is included in an EQR?
Order No. 2001 requires public utilities to electronically file EQRs including the contractual terms and conditions in their agreements for all FERC-jurisdictional services, and detailed transaction information for all of their electricity sales. Orders 2001-A through 2001-I, and Order 768, extend and refine the original requirements. While non-public utilities do not have FERC-jurisdictional contracts and sales, they will report the details that they would be required to report if they were jurisdictional, except for certain transaction data. The Commission excluded: (1) sales by a non-public utility, such as a cooperative or joint action agency, to its members; and (2) sales by a non-public utility under a long-term, cost-based agreement required to be made to certain customers under Federal or state statute.
The best way to see, in detail, what is included in an EQR is to look at the EQR Data Dictionary. It describes all of the fields included in the data collection and lists what the allowable entries are for restricted fields. The EQR Data Dictionary, as revised in Order 768, is accessible as a Word document.
What are the IT requirements, and is special software required?
FERC currently provides software to file EQRs, but beginning with the third quarter 2013 EQR filing (the first quarter non-public utilities have to file), that software is being eliminated. On 11/15/12, FERC issued a Final Rule in RM12-3 that requires utilities to file EQRs using a web portal on the FERC website or with third party software. The rule states that filers will be able to upload EQR files in CSV format or in XML format. Thus far, the XML specifications published related to the NOPR have not been updated to include the new data requirements specified in Order 768.
The FERC web portal has not been demonstrated yet, so it is unclear what the performance will be, especially for large filings. Energy Compliance Consulting is partnering with Systrends, a leading eTariff software provider, to develop a software solution to file EQRs in XML format once the current EQR software is eliminated in 2013. Our software will speed the filing process and have robust validation and error checking routines well beyond the current FERC EQR software to help ensure high quality EQRs. We will have much more detail available on that solution once the final rule in RM 12-3 is issued, establishing the specific requirements.
What should I do to prepare for this requirement?
Because creating EQR filings that are compliant with FERC’s specifications will require some programming, utilities should immediately begin to assess their trade capture systems (and possibly other resources) to determine if they currently have the required data in their systems. Many utilities do not have the data required for the Contracts portion of the EQR in an automated system, so reporting those data may require significant manual data entry. Additionally, certain fields added to the Transaction data in Order 768 (such as eTag ID Data, Rate Type, and Exchange Name) may not currently be maintained in some utilities’ trade capture systems (or are not maintained in a manner that is consistent with FERC’s definitions). An analysis should be performed to compare the definitions in the EQR Data Dictionary with the definitions used in the utility’s systems to ensure that all of the required data is available to be downloaded and is defined in a manner consistent with FERC’s definitions. Any required system changes will be need to be completed before July 1, 2013, because the first EQR filing under Order 768 will include July, August and September 2013 data.
Training will be needed on many fronts:
- IT staff will need to understand the EQR requirements to ensure that the utilities’ systems include the required data and that it can be downloaded and formatted in a manner compliant with FERC’s specifications.
- Traders, schedulers, and anyone who enters required data into the trade capture (and possibly related) system need to be trained to ensure that the data they enter into those systems is consistent with the definitions in the EQR Data Dictionary.
- Contract Administration staff will need to be trained to understand the EQR requirements to ensure that any information they put into contracts management systems is consistent with FERC’s definitions.
- Finally, the staff compiling and filing EQRs need to be trained to ensure that they understand the EQR requirements, and understand the data that they will be entering into the system.
How can Energy Compliance Consulting help prepare my utility to file EQRs?
As the leading EQR consultant for the past four years, Barbara Bourque, has held numerous training conferences and helped literally hundreds of public utilities with their EQR filing questions and challenges. Her consulting practice is devoted almost exclusively to FERC EQR compliance, and she is the only provider of public EQR training conferences. (She managed the implementation and rollout of the EQR program at FERC from 2002 to 2005.) Because of the expanded requirements, she will be holding multiple EQR training sessions in the coming months. Some of them will be especially formatted for first-time EQR filers. In order to plan the right number and types of training sessions, in the most convenient locations, she has developed a short survey. If you are possibly interested in attending a public EQR training conference (or in holding an in-house training session at your location, as many of my larger clients do), please take a minute to answer the five questions by accessing the EQR Training Survey. If you would like to learn more about the EQR training conferences, please visit the conference web page on the Energy Compliance Consulting web site.