The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) is continuing its practice of transitioning from hard-copy paper submissions to electronic filing procedures. In 2000, the Commission started accepting certain electronic filings through its eFiling system.  Later, in 2008, the Commission began the process of accepting tariff filings electronically through its eTariff system. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) issued earlier today, the Commission announced proposed changes to its hearing procedures to allow for the electronic filing of hearing exhibits.

The Commission’s current rules require that a hearing participant seeking to have an exhibit admitted must provide one copy of the exhibit to the presiding officer and two copies to the reporter. This requirement has become obsolete given that the Commission’s administrative law judges (ALJ) recently adopted revised practices for handling exhibits that eliminate the need to submit paper copies of exhibits during the hearing. The new ALJ policy instead requires that within 7 days after the hearing, participants must electronically file a Joint Exhibit List and Official Copies of each document offered into evidence during the hearing. Since the ALJs no longer require paper copies of exhibits, there is no reason for the Commission to continue such submissions.

This shift to electronically filed hearing exhibits is intended to further improve the efficiency and administrative convenience of the Commission’s hearing process. Electronic filings will reduce the burden and expense associated with preparing and submitting often voluminous paper exhibits during hearings and will better facilitate the compilation and transmittal of the hearing record. Comments on this NOPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The NOPR is available at: http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2015/031915/E-15.pdf

The ALJ’s new procedures for handling exhibits is available at: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/admin-lit/exhibits-hearing-record.doc