On April 21, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) that would require the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to provide Commission staff with access to electronic tags (“e-Tags”) or requests for interchange used to schedule wholesale power.  The Commission said this information is vital to monitoring markets and preventing manipulation, and the information will help maintain just and reasonable rates while ensuring compliance with North American Energy Standards Board (“NAESB”) business practices.  FERC is also inviting comments on whether e-Tags should be made available to those that monitor Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”).

NERC and regional entities collect e-Tags in almost real-time to help reliability coordinators identify transactions that will need to be curtailed due to transmission constraints.  NERC began gathering e-Tag information in 1999, and market participants submit to NERC contract specific information such as source and sink balancing authority areas, the transaction’s priority level, and transmission reservation numbers.  The Commission stated that the NOPR seeks to gather e-Tag data from NERC in order to avoid putting a burden on market participants.  FERC also believe the e-Tag data will be useful for audits, investigations, and policy/decision-making.  According to the NOPR, the e-Tag information will be kept confidential.

Comments to the NOPR are due sixty days from publication in the Federal Register.

A copy of the FERC order is available here.