The FERC XBRL Mandate: All You Need To Know

A dedicated resource to help you understand the FERC XBRL mandate in-depth and also address all your questions regarding all aspects of complying with this mandate.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

A Brief Introduction

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency established under the US government’s Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977, oversees the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. The FERC, by its regulatory function, ensures that customers have access to efficient and sustainable energy at a reasonable price.

The FERC’s functions include:

  • Reviewing proposals for liquefied natural gas terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines
  • Regulating power transmission and wholesale rates and services under Parts II, III of the Federal Power Act
  • Regulating hydroelectric dam licensing and safety under Part I of the Federal Power Act
  • Overseeing natural gas pipeline transportation rates and services under the Natural Gas Act
  • Regulating oil pipeline transportation rates and services under the Interstate Commerce Act

The FERC operates within the bounds of the statutes mentioned.

FERC A Brief Introduction

What do Filings With the FERC Involve?

Filings With the FERC

The FERC collects operational and financial data from the companies it regulates. The FERC has from Q3 2021 moved to an XBRL-based system for collecting this information from energy companies. XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. XBRL involves the placement of machine-readable labels against each item of data being reported. The XBRL format allows easier analysis and peer-to-peer comparison of reported data.

Before Q3 2021, filings to the FERC were done using MS Visual FoxPro, a data collection system that Microsoft has stopped supporting. The main criticism against Visual FoxPro was that it used to make data collection a laborious process.

What are the Various FERC Forms
Energy Companies Need to Submit in XBRL?

US energy companies need to file the following Forms in XBRL format

Electricity Company Forms

  • Form 1: Annual Report of Major* Electric Utilities, Licensees, and Others
  • Form 1-F: Annual Report of Non-major* Public Utilities and Licensees
  • Form 3-Q: Quarterly Financial Report of Electric Utilities, Licensees, and Natural Gas Companies
  • Form 714: Annual Electric Balancing Authority Area and Planning Area Report

Gas Company Forms

  • Form 2: Annual Report for Major Natural Gas Companies
  • Form 2A: Annual Report for Non-major Natural Gas Companies
  • Form 3-Q: Quarterly Financial Report of Electric Utilities, Licensees, and Natural Gas Companies

Oil Pipeline Companies

  • Form 6: Annual Report of Oil Pipeline Companies
  • Form 6-Q: Quarterly Report of Oil Pipeline Companies

Service Company Forms

  • Form 60: Annual Report of Centralized Service Companies
Industry and Related Forms

Classification of Major and Non-major Companies

Major Companies

Major electric utilities are utilities whose sales and transmission services exceeded the following levels in each of the three previous calendar years:

  • 1 mln megawatt-hours of total annual sales
  • 100-megawatt hours of annual sales for resale
  • 500 megawatt-hours of annual power exchanges delivered
  • or 500-megawatt hours of annual wheeling for others (deliveries plus losses).

New entities that expect to be in a Major category should begin filing based on projected data.

Gas majors are defined as those that transported or stored for a fee gas exceeding 50 mln Dth (dekatherms).

Non-major Companies

An electric non-major utility is defined as having total annual sales of 10,000 megawatt-hours or more in the previous calendar year and is not classified as Major. New entities that expect to be in the Nonmajor category should begin filing based on projected data.

A gas non-major is defined as having total gas sales or volume transactions exceeding 200,000 Dth.

What was the Earlier MS Visual FoxPro-based
Filing System
of FERC Data like?

Before FERC’s XBRL-based filing system kicked in at the end of Q3 2021, US power utilities were using MS Visual FoxPro to file their financial and operational forms with the energy regulator. However, MS Visual FoxPro has been an almost obsolete system since 2015, when Microsoft stopped supporting it. Data entry was a manual process on Visual FoxPro and it offered no state-of-the-art functionalities.

Filing System of FERC Data like

Why Did FERC Decide to Move to an
XBRL-based Filing System?

XBRL-based Filing System

XBRL or eXtensible Business Reporting Language is a structured data format in which many regulatory bodies, business directories, stock exchanges, and central banks around the world require financial and business disclosures from the companies or entities they oversee. XBRL allows the entities to apply machine-readable (XBRL) tags or labels against the numbers or information in their reports. This process makes the reports machine-readable. When rendered using XBRL software, these reports become highly interactive and easy to analyze and compare with peer company reports.

Before the XBRL-based filing system kicked in, US energy companies used to file their information to the FERC in PDF format. Data locked in a PDF file needs to be manually sifted through if any analysis or comparison needs to be carried out. With data now being submitted by the companies in a uniform, structured format, the FERC can validate, analyze, and process the data with ease. Moreover, external stakeholders of the FERC data can rest assured that the reported data is of high quality.

How does XBRL Benefit US Energy Companies
Filing Information with the FERC?

The FERC XBRL mandate makes life easier for US energy companies in two ways. Firstly, the software that companies will use to create and submit XBRL reports will be a lot more user-friendly than an obsolete system (MS Visual FoxPro). Companies can simply upload their data onto XBRL software via MS Excel or Word documents. There is no need to manually enter the data. Secondly, companies can use the data filed in XBRL format for their own analysis and peer-to-peer comparisons. All XBRL data filed with the FERC can be accessed at a click.

US Energy Companies

What Does a FERC XBRL Filing Involve?


An XBRL filing involves applying machine-readable (XBRL) tags against individual numbers or disclosures in a document. A FERC XBRL filing should ideally work the same way – with each line item in a FERC Form being assigned an XBRL tag. However, owing to FERC filing companies’ unfamiliarity with the XBRL format, a few software vendors have gone the extra mile to ensure that companies needn’t be troubled by the technical aspects of the format. They have ‘embedded’ XBRL tags within FERC Forms on their software platforms so that the tagging of each fact is taken care of automatically. One such software, which handles XBRL tagging at the backend and helps companies create high-quality FERC XBRL reports is IRIS CARBON®.

What is an XBRL Taxonomy?
What is the FERC XBRL Taxonomy?

As mentioned earlier, preparing an XBRL document involves applying XBRL tags or machine-readable labels to each number or line item in the document. The XBRL tags need to be selected from a collection of such tags known as a taxonomy. In other words, an XBRL taxonomy is a dictionary of XBRL tags.

The XBRL tags within a taxonomy are machine-readable representations of the facts or concepts that need to be reported. Hence, the FERC XBRL taxonomy is a collection of XBRL tags that represent the concepts that need to be disclosed through FERC Forms.

FERC XBRL Taxonomy

How Different is the FERC XBRL Taxonomy
from the Taxonomies Used for SEC Filings?

How Different is the FERC XBRL Taxonomy

The taxonomy used for FERC filings is a closed taxonomy while the taxonomies used by SEC filers are open taxonomies. Open taxonomies allow the creation of extension elements or custom XBRL tags in case no appropriate tag exists in those taxonomies for a company-specific disclosure. Closed taxonomies do not allow the formation of extension elements. While using a closed taxonomy, companies may leave information untagged if no specific XBRL element exists with which to tag the information.

About FERC Taxonomy 2022

About FERC Taxonomy 2022

On Feb 17, 2022, FERC released its updated taxonomy version 2.0. Companies need to use the new taxonomy for their Q4 2021 filings. The FERC has provided companies 60 days of buffer time to adopt the new taxonomy and complete their submission before Apr 18, 2022.

Communication from FERC regarding the taxonomy update can be viewed at

The new taxonomy can be viewed on the FERC eForms portal –

You can also view the sample rendering forms in HTML format. You can view this on the FERC portal under Vendor Files Library –

Some of the changes in FERC taxonomy 2.0, across form types, can be categorized as:

  • Correction of Labels
  • Addition/Deletion of Line items
  • Deletion of concepts that were not being used

To sum it up, the vast majority of the concepts remain the same. FERC has polished the taxonomy from its previous version.

How Does Software Help With FERC XBRL Filings?

Filing data with the FERC using the Visual FoxPro filing system has been a painful process for companies. Migrating financial and operational data onto the Visual FoxPro-based system has involved painstakingly keying in the information. At times, users have lost their entire data after keying it in. In some instances, the system has even locked out users before they could save their work.

By contrast, the new XBRL-based filing system is bound to make FERC compliance a cakewalk. Firstly, companies have multiple solutions to choose from, each of them coming with its own set of conveniences. A software solution comes with the possibility of an upgrade or improvement – something that the Visual FoxPro-based system lacked. Therefore, filing with XBRL software is sure to be a significantly easier process for companies.

FERC Software

What Sort of FERC XBRL Software
Should My Company Choose?

There’s a list of things to check for while choosing an XBRL software for FERC reporting, including the right credentials, customer testimonials, forms with XBRL tags embedded, simplified data transfer, and expert support.

FERC XBRL Software

The Right Credentials

If your company has to efficiently comply with the FERC XBRL mandate, the track record and certifications of the software you use do matter. You specifically need to verify the software provider’s depth of experience in the XBRL space, the presence of XBRL specialists in their team, and the amount of XBRL filings the software provider has handled in the past. You can also check if the software is certified by XBRL International and a member of XBRL jurisdiction groups such as XBRL US.

Client Testimonials

Positive client testimonials matter. They show that the XBRL software being considered can deliver the goods. At times, there are reference customers you could talk to. They could be companies that have been using the same software for their SEC filings. Look for positive stories about a software provider.

Embedded XBRL tags

XBRL reporting, as we have mentioned earlier, involves tagging your disclosures with appropriate tags from the XBRL taxonomy. However, some FERC XBRL compliance software solutions embed XBRL tags within the schedules, removing the need for any manual tagging. With tagging taken care of, FERC compliance can be reduced to uploading a spreadsheet and ensuring your facts and figures add up.

Simple Data Transfer

Unlike the Visual FoxPro-based filing system, which involved manually entering numbers onto your schedules, FERC XBRL software can allow you to upload or copy-paste data from spreadsheets. Some solutions also allow you to collect data from internal ERP systems with the help of APIs.

Unlimited Expert Support

Since the FERC XBRL mandate is a fairly new filing requirement, your filing process needs careful monitoring. Software providers should ideally support companies through the initial jitters and be available when help is needed. You need to check if your software provider belongs in your time zone and how support teams can be reached out to. Ideally, the additional support shouldn’t cost you extra.

A few more checks

Does the software have complete control of all your form submissions?
Does the software allow resubmitting filings? Are records of each submission maintained?
Can data previously filed be rolled forward so you work with the same template?
Does the software provider roll out timely updates to keep the features and functions current?

What Are Some of the Best Software
Features for FERC XBRL Filings?

An efficient FERC XBRL compliance process calls for solutions that come with features specific to this mandate – such as no knowledge of XBRL being required and simplified methods of uploading data to the platform. Here’s a list of all the features that can help with hassle-free FERC XBRL compliance.

No Need For XBRL Expertise

Easily the most useful feature for FERC XBRL reporting is the one that calls for no expertise or familiarity of XBRL. This is possible because of software that comes with XBRL tags embedded in the FERC schedules.

Collaborative Platforms

The collaborative feature allows compliance teams to work on documents in a seamless and secure manner, with no interruption. Team members may log in simultaneously and from different locations to collaborate on a document.

User Management

In organizations where FERC compliance teams are large, solutions can help define roles for team members – such as creator, reviewer, etc. A document ‘creator’ can restrict or allow other users’ access to some portions of the FERC forms being prepared. The filing process can thus be compartmentalized.

Simplified Data Uploads

FERC filings using MS Visual FoxPro needed long hours of painstaking keying in of data onto the system. With XBRL software, you can simply upload an MS Excel or MS Word file to make your data reflect on the platform.

Filing Calendar Notifications

A complete control over all schedule submissions and notifications to help you complete the compliance process on time is what this feature offers. You can even set target dates for task completion and have the notifications drop into your inbox. This feature helps you both plan and streamline your compliance.

Rendering In Human-readable Formats

Rendering is the process that displays an XBRL instance document in a human-readable format such as a PDF or MS Excel for the purpose of a review. Rendering helps you review your XBRL file before submitting it to the FERC.

Reviews & Commenting

XBRL solutions make reviewing the document as simple a process as a manual audit. A few solutions also allow users to insert comments against forms, schedules, or data for internal team members’ review.

Validations & Error-free Filings

A validation check that covers calculations, spelling errors, cross-validation, and compliance with XBRL standards helps you keep your document up to the mark even before it reaches the external auditor’s desk..

Roll-forward Feature

The roll-forward feature helps you use the template of your previous filings for your future filings. It is a feature that can save you much time and make your filing process efficient.

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