Don’t be afraid, but be respectful.
Regardless of what you think of the individuals involved, approach them politely,
respectfully and as professionals. Speaking
pedantically, or otherwise causing them
to take offense, will only cause them to
become defensive and determined to not
agree with your position. Your mission is
to achieve your regulatory objective, not to
give the individuals a personal reason to be
belligerent toward you or your position.
Conduct prefiling educational
meetings. When possible, and assuming that the rules governing your particular
regulatory agency allow, meet with them
before you file your case. In most cases, the
“ex parte” rules prohibit you from unilaterally discussing your case with decision-making individuals at the regulatory agency
outside the presence of other parties. But
such rules often do not apply until you have
filed your case. Discussing a draft of your
proposed application in advance of filing is
often permitted. If so, such discussions not
only afford you an opportunity to ’heads up’
and educate the regulators, but also to get
some initial feedback. Getting such feedback can be invaluable. It can prompt you
to modify your filing before you make it, so
that you fashion it in a manner that is more
likely to address the regulators’ concerns.
Garner customer support. The
more widely supported your position,
the easier it is for the regulators to
approve it. Do what you reasonably
can to obtain support, or at least non-
objection, from your customers. You
will have to deal with your customers’
views once you make your filing, so why
not try to do so before you file, thereby
smoothing out some of the bumps in
the regulatory path that you are likely to
confront later on?
Member of Jennings
Strouss & Salmon PLC.
Based in the firm’s
Washington, D.C., office,
he is engaged in the firm’s
energy and regulatory
practice. He has extensive
experience representing clients before the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and
other federal and state agencies and commissions. He may be reached by email at
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