Agency seeks e-document comments

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In an effort to improve the efficiency of its electronic service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently issued a notice of inquiry seeking comments on a proposal to allow it to issue documents in electronic format.

The commission is also interested in the public's thoughts on a separate mechanism to electronically distribute its documents to individuals without the receiver having to intervene, according to the notice issued Sept. 27.

Among other things, the notice seeks answers to the following questions:

* Would adopting issuances via e-mail be easier for recipients than receiving paper service?

* FERC's Web site contains documents in a number of formats, including ASCII, Word Perfect and TIFF; would other types, such as PDFs, be preferable?

* Would e-distribution reduce the number of parties filing motions to intervene simply to remain aware of a proceeding's developments?

* Would it be beneficial for FERC to e-mail Web links to other documents in addition to its own issuances?

FERC officials are considering running a pilot program for e-distribution before finalizing the e-service rules. They also are considering instituting a cost-recovery fee for the service and want to know how that would affect usage.

The inquiry is "limited in scope to the issue of electronic service of the commission's issuances and electronic service among parties...and is not intended to explore other aspects of [its] service regulations," according to the document.

All comments must be received by FERC, either on paper or electronically, by Nov. 2.

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