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Final Complaint Rule to Debut at FERC

Final Complaint Rule to Debut at FERC

All eyes will be on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week as it looks to unveil its final rulemaking on the long-awaited complaint procedures. With this scheduled action, it will clear away the first of numerous major initiatives on its plate.

The question is how closely will the final rule track the notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), which recommended that parties use arbitration or other informal measures to resolve their commercial dispute before filing a complaint at the Commission. It proposed alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the FERC Enforcement Hotline and other informal measures to help settle disputes up-front [RM98-13].

The treatment of ADR, as well as the relationship of FERC's Dispute Resolution Service, a new independent office, to the complaint procedures will be a key issue in the final rule, said Lorraine Cross, senior vice president for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). "I think that's the issue to look for," she told Daily GPI.

Producers previously cited their concern with the use of ADR and other arbitration techniques, noting that disputes between pipelines and their customers are usually over interpretation of either tariff language or regulations that require Commission expertise to settle. They don't believe outside arbitrators know the law sufficiently to do this. They also believe it will further delay the process.

But the Commission believes that the use of ADR and other informal/preliminary resolution measures will go a long way towards expediting the complaint process, allowing it to weed out the less serious complaints and focus its attention on the more difficult cases. FERC hopes to be able to resolve most complaints within 60 to 90 days.

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