FERC Announces New ADR Initiatives

Article excerpt

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken a number of initiatives recently to expand its use of alternative dispute resolution procedures. The commission has established the Office of Dispute Resolution Service (DRS), appointed a director to implement the agency's ADR policy, and revised its regulations governing complaints.

Office of Dispute Resolution Service

The Office of Dispute Resolution Service, created by FERC in February, has two major functions: to perform ADR duties involving internal and external disputes and to enhance the use of ADR within the commission and the regulatory community. Richard L. Miles has been appointed director of the new office. Miles served as associate general counsel for administrative litigation since 1988.

Part of the role of DRS is to perform facilitation and mediation (internally and externally) duties. It also will work closely with all offices within the commission and the regulatory community to improve ADR awareness by conducting and assisting in ADR education and training. For example, the office is responsible for conducting general ADR awareness training for commission employees, assessing specific ADR training needs of offices within the commission, identifying and soliciting external experts to assist in training programs, preparing and circulating an ADR handbook, and planning conferences, workshops, and other ADR-related events. DRS will also help identify cases appropriate for ADR processing, conduct convening sessions to aid parties in the development of an ADR process, and represent the commission regarding ADR with external organizations and agencies.

Order No. 602

FERC issued Order No. 602 on March 31 to encourage and support the consensual resolution of complaints. To achieve this goal, FERC offers the services of DRS and the commission's Enforcement Hotline an informal conflict resolution alternative. The assistance offered by the hotline ranges from clarifying procedural questions to helping wholesale marketers of electricity obtain transmission services.

FERC, an independent regulatory agency, has advocated ADR use in past programs. …