On November 8, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) released its plan to comply with President Barack Obama’s Executive Order No. 13579 concerning periodic retrospective analysis of existing “significant regulations.” 

Executive Order No. 13579 requested that independent agencies review “significant regulations,” but did not clearly define what should be considered a significant regulation.  The Commission’s staff, in consultation with the Office of Management, determined that very few of the Commission’s rules are “major rules,” as they do not “have a significant impact on a substantial number of entities.”  Accordingly, the Commission will review actions and other rules that would be considered of importance to the industry regulated by the Commission.  On a biennial basis, Commission staff will produce a memo that has a list of regulations up for evaluation based on a 10-year review cycle.  This memo will be available for public comment, and the Commission will consider it, along with staff’s recommendation in determining whether or not a regulation should be the subject of a formal public review.  The Commission indicated in its plan that the public and industry participants may suggest the need for revisions in existing regulations.

Executive Order No. 13579 also requested that agencies follow the principles of Executive Order No. 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”  Pursuant to Executive Order No. 13563, the Commission reviewed: (1) changes to Electric Quarterly Reports; and (2) proposed retirement of semi-annual storage reports for interstate and intrastate natural gas companies.  Additionally, the Commission determined that the following are “significant regulatory actions:” 

  • Order Nos. 888 and 889, Promoting Wholesale Competition Through Open Access Non-discriminatory Transmission Services by Public Utilities;
  • Mandatory Reliability Standards for the Bulk Power System; and
  • Smart Grid Policy Statement.

In addition to Executive Order Nos. 13563 and 13579, the Commission has undertaken independent efforts to simplify the regulatory process.  These efforts include a Notice of Inquiry to reassess electric transmission ratemaking incentive regulations; exemption for certain transactions from natural gas index reporting requirements; comprehensive review of open access regulations in 2007, leading to Order No. 890; exemption from filing requirements for specific small generating facilities (1 MW and smaller); and a Notice of Inquiry in June 2011 regarding competition in ancillary services.

 A copy of the Commission’s Plan is available here.