FERC: What you need to know as an energy company

Last year, the FERC adopted eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) as the standard for Energy Companies to file form Nos. 1, 1-F, 2, 2-A, 3-Q electric, 3-Q natural gas, 6, 6-Q, 60, and 714 respectively. Necessity may have compelled FERC to transition (since Visual FoxPro was discontinued by Microsoft) to XBRL, but it’s certainly a boon in disguise for all parties involved. A switch to XBRL will not only enable FERC to process and analyze the data with greater speed and accuracy but also lower the costs associated with preparing and filing financial reports for energy companies in the long run.

All of this will be for naught if energy companies don’t do their due diligence and fail to contribute to FERC’s efforts during the process of transition. Your active participation will make a world of difference when it’s time for you to file your first XBRL report. The final quarter of 2020 will also be a less stressful period for your company if you’re prepared and mechanisms are already in place for the adoption of XBRL.

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Here are some important steps you should start taking as an energy company:

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Participate in FERC’s implementation activities

Firstly, you need to tune in to FERC’s activities page that regularly updates information regarding the implementation. It has already released the first draft of its taxonomy guide charting out aspects such as taxonomy structure, data types, file rendering and more. In fact, the FERC is also accepting comments on its draft taxonomies. You can download the draft taxonomy and review it using Yeti, a review tool provided for this purpose by FERC.

Another important activity that you need to not just follow closely but also participate in, is the Technical Conference for revisions to the filing process for commission forms. The conference is scheduled for March 24-26, 2020 and will delve into comments submitted on the draft FERC XBRL Taxonomy, related draft documents as well as discussion of filing processes for implementation of XBRL.

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Start planning your XBRL strategy

Assuming all mechanisms will be set in place by FERC before Q2 ends; you need to make changes to your filing calendar. Keep in mind that since this will be your company’s first time preparing an XBRL report, you will need more time than you did before. You can get in touch with IRIS CARBON® experts to plan your strategy if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Here are two ways that you should consider for your strategy:

    • Assemble your own XBRL team: This method will ensure more power to you. Your in-house XBRL team can tag and convert reports using a reliable XBRL platform, like IRIS CARBON®. This will also be cost-effective in the long-term because IRIS CARBON® is capable of carrying forward the original template and format of your company’s report to the next financial year. It provides fresh and blank slate that will save you hundreds of hours that would have otherwise been dedicated just to creating a templa. IRIS CARBON® is also updated regularly to ensure that you only use the latest taxonomy and have access to advanced features for both tagging and report management.
    • Out-source the XBRL conversion of your report: You can also simply prepare your report and hire an XBRL service provider who will tag and convert your report for you. This method will have the most minimal effect on your current process. Our highly experienced team of XBRL experts is at your disposal if you choose to outsource your report conversion.

A reliable XBRL Software Service Provider (SSP) is imperative to your process. Make sure you do your research, gauge different software offerings and finalize your SSP well in advance so that everything is  smooth sailing at the penultimate moment.

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Educate yourself about XBRL

Regardless of how you plan to go about preparing your report, make sure that you are absolutely aware of what XBRL is, why the FERC is implementing this standard and the role the taxonomy will play in your report. Besides this, you also need to know the technical aspects of tagging even if you decide not to do it yourself.

It’s important to educate yourself about XBRL because no matter who is involved in the process you will be driving it as the manager or C-suite executive. Only you will know if your report is going in the right direction because it’s your report and your company. More importantly, only you can ensure that the quality of the data in your report is top-notch and unquestionable. Remember, a converted XBRL report does not amount to a successful submission. Filing and validation errors are avoidable nightmares as long as you know what to watch out for. No one wants to redo a financial report once it has been done and dusted.

We also recommend that you consider the transition to XBRL as an opportunity to evaluate your reporting process. IRIS offers not just CARBON® but also multiple other premium solutions that can automate, streamline and manage your reporting process. You can explore our products here.

FERC: What you need to know as an energy company