Public comments are critical to FERC’s decision-making process. Public comments can have specific to far-reaching impacts on individuals, communities, industries, and the environment. Through comments, the public provides Commission staff information that adds important context, detail or data that can result in better outcomes.
Why Submit Comments?
FERC makes decisions on diverse and complex aspects of the energy industry. FERC’s subject matter experts, who include scientists, engineers, economists, attorneys, and others, base their analysis on relevant law, science, and economic data. However, staff members and FERC also need to hear from the public to better understand the issues, problems, and implications of a given FERC action.
Public comments add knowledge and insight to a proceeding. Members of the public know the land, resources, industry, and stakeholders intimately and this knowledge can greatly assist the Commission during its review. Public comments strengthen Commission decisions by providing FERC with essential facts, perspectives, and data that may have been lacking in regulatory changes, policy proposals, and company filings. Comments are welcomed to raise issues of concern, add a perspective or suggest an alternative, express support and let FERC know when it is heading in the right direction for a given issue, or other reasons.
The Public Comment Process
The public comment process allows anyone to have their say on new or revised regulations, policies, and projects before a final decision is reached by FERC. You don't need lots of credentials or qualifications to share your insights.
You should know, however, that each proceeding may have unique characteristics related to public input. Some proceedings offer multiple opportunities to comment, while others provide just one window for the public to provide comments. Also, the comment period (deadlines for submitting public comments) may differ for each proceeding.
Generally, the timelines for submitting public comments follow the process shown below.
Building the Administrative Record
As mentioned, a key goal of commenting is to help FERC “collect evidence.” Through the information and perspectives they provide, comments ultimately aid in building a “file” that contains detailed information on a particular case or proceeding – commonly referred to as an administrative record.
FERC posts all timely filings, including yours, in the administrative record. The administrative record is the foundation for informed decision-making, and provides the required basis of evidence for FERC’s rulings and judgements.
Every FERC case has its own, unique docket number (e.g., AD21-9-000). This allows any member of the public to search for and view the most current administrative record for a proceeding, including your filed comments, by locating the record online in eLibrary, FERC’s online records information system. A sample view of an eLibrary search for a proceeding can be found below.
For tips on how to use eLibrary, click here.
How FERC Uses Public Comments
While the work of Commission staff is often not available to the public eye (and in some instances communications with staff may be barred by off-the-record communications rules), public comments play a significant role at FERC. Every comment FERC receives is entered into the record, read, and considered.
Further, comments may result in a number of actions and outcomes. Comments may impact a decision directly, or may spur a request to a party to provide additional information. In some proceedings, comments may result in consultation with other federal agencies. Comments might also raise awareness at FERC of an emerging issue or concern, such that future proceedings are impacted. In short, comments can lead to a variety of benefits, so the recommended course is to make your comment and see what develops in response - don’t hold back and assume nothing is going to change.
Top 5 Tips for Writing Comments
The infographic below provides five key tips on how to write more effective, powerful, and persuasive comments.
How to File Comments
You can find here a step-by-step instruction guide that explains how the public can file comments in Commission proceedings. There, you can also find a recording of a workshop on how to file comments in a FERC proceeding using FERC’s eFiling and eComment online applications.