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El Paso Accused of Flouting FERC Directives in Compliance Filing

El Paso Natural Gas shippers last Monday called on FERC to reject the pipeline's rate compliance filing that was submitted in late April, saying it flagrantly disregarded the agency's order and was another attempt by the pipeline to cloud an already complex rate case.

The "inability of an experienced interstate pipeline to comply with a clear order...is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, a willful defiance of the Commission's order," said the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District in a protest at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Salt River and other shippers accused El Paso of intentionally flouting a March 23 order in which they said FERC clearly rejected the pipeline's proposed daily scheduling penalty and ordered El Paso to file revised tariff sheets within 30 days. The order specifically said "while El Paso has justified its creation of an hourly scheduling penalty, its proposed daily scheduling penalty is unjustified and thus rejected," Salt River noted.

"The Commission's language is clear and unequivocal. Nevertheless, in its compliance filing, El Paso asserts that 'the order is not clear on whether the daily scheduling charge was rejected or to be applied and modified.'"

Salt River "protests El Paso's inappropriate use of a compliance filing. The Commission should reject El Paso's attempts to add confusion where none exists and strongly admonish El Paso in the hope that the pipeline will spend more time resolving its operational problems and less time creating confusion in an already murky proceeding all under the guise of attempting to protect itself from savage customers whose goal, at least according to El Paso, is to misuse the pipeline," said the Tempe, AZ-based government owned utility, which provides electricity and water to Arizona.

"El Paso's rate case filing is extremely complex... [And] the compliance filing demonstrates that much of the complexity is a result of El Paso's insistence on reading documents outside of their plain meaning," Salt River noted.

El Paso "has effectively turned a compliance filing into a request for rehearing of the March 23 order by arguing that the Commission's...order was unclear regarding daily scheduling penalties," said El Paso Electric Co. "The March 23 order clearly rejected daily scheduling penalties, and a compliance filing is not the vehicle for disputing the rationale for that order."

There was "nothing ambiguous" about FERC's statements in the March order, El Paso Electric said, adding that the agency should reject all El Paso proposals that fail to comply with its directives.

Likewise, Texas Gas Service Co., a division of Oneok Inc., protested the El Paso compliance filing, "both on the grounds that portions of it do not comply with the directives of the...order, and because other portions are either contrary to the clear directives of the...order or are beyond the scope of an appropriate compliance filing."

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