The FERC pursuant to section 311(a)(2) requires that:
- intrastate pipelines or
- local distribution pipelines
Engaged in the transportation of natural gas for any:
- interstate pipeline, or
- local distribution company Served by an interstate pipeline
Must have an approved tariff on file with the Commission. 18 C.F.R. Part 284 (Part 284) provides the tariff filing requirements and procedures for these pipelines to file rate changes and Statements of Operating Conditions (SOC) with the Commission. Such pipelines are subject to one of two statutes, depending upon their interconnections:
- either Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA), section 311 or
- Natural Gas Act (NGA), section 1(c) (Hinshaw).
The Commission follows similar processes in managing intrastate and Hinshaw pipeline tariff filings, though there are some differences due to the underlying statutory authorities. The Commission will often refer to such tariff filings as Part 284 or section 311 filings regardless of the statutory status of the pipeline.
In Order No. 781 the Commission adopted an Optional Notice Procedure that maintains the same rate review standards under §§ 284.123(b)(1), (b)(2) and/or (e) but changes the business process for filings. Prior to Order No. 781, staff, shippers and the pipeline would engage in informal settlement discussions, a process requiring negotiating, drafting, and then filing a settlement. Implementation of settlement often included additional orders and filings. Now under the Optional Notice Procedure, shippers, staff and the pipeline may engage in informal settlement and package the results with a pipeline’s commitment to meeting the five year rate review policy in exchange for a quicker and less administratively burdensome, but just as thorough, review of its filing. Under the new Optional Notice Procedure the filing is given Notice with two separate periods. The Notice provides for a 21 day period for parties, generally the pipeline’s shipper’s or potential shippers, to file comments and/ or to seek to intervene in the case, and for a second 60 day period for parties, including Commission Staff, to file final comments and to protest the filing. Under the new Optional Notice Procedure if the filing is not protested, the filing is deemed approved at the end of the 60 day period. As part of the new process, staff encourages the pipeline to work with all stakeholders in advance, so that the resulting filing is the equivalent to the results of a prepackaged settlement.