On May 19, 2022, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to establish a rule that would require natural gas pipelines to submit all supporting statements, schedules, and workpapers in native format, with all links and formulas intact, when filing a Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 4 rate case. FERC issued the NOPR in response to a petition from several national gas trade associations, which argued that FERC’s current policy of permitting certain supporting documents to be filed in non-native format does not ensure that FERC staff and stakeholders have access to all information required to perform routine rate analyses. Comments on the NOPR are due June 17, 2022.

When a natural gas pipeline files to change its rates, NGA section 4 requires the pipeline to provide detailed support for all components of its cost of service. FERC regulations further require such filings to provide certain statements (Statements A through P). Under FERC’s currently effective Implementation Guide for Electronic Filing of Parts 35, 154, 284, 300 and 341 Tariff Filings (“FERC Implementation Guide”), many statements that include spreadsheets must be filed in native file format with formulas included, but others—including Statements O and P—are not required to be filed in native format. Furthermore, the currently-effective FERC Implementation Guide permits non-native files to be submitted with Statements I, J, and a portion of H if the native format file is not available.

In the NOPR, FERC proposes to require natural gas pipelines to submit all statements, schedules, and workpapers in native format with formulas and links intact when filing a general NGA section 4 rate case. FERC gave three reasons for the proposed change: first, the change will reconcile any ambiguity in the current requirements with a formal requirement to file in native file format. FERC explained that requiring spreadsheets with links and formulas intact will enable rate case participants and FERC to evaluate the filing on equal footing with the natural gas pipeline and without relying on experts or re-creating the pipeline’s rate model. Second, FERC reasoned that the proposed rule will provide a timely and comprehensive analysis of a rate case filing and allow for stakeholders to analyze whether the rates are just and reasonable. Lastly, FERC reasoned that the current regulations, dating back to 1995, are outdated. According to FERC, the proposed rule reflects current information technology capabilities and will not be excessively burdensome on natural gas pipelines.

Comments on the NOPR are due June 17, 2022. The NOPR can be found here.