BPA's rate cases are decided "on the record." That is, in making a decision on final rates, the BPA Administrator considers only information that is contained in the Official Record of the rate case, subject to limited exceptions. Therefore, during a rate case, BPA and all parties are under ex parte restrictions and any discussions BPA has with non-Department of Energy employees about the substantive issues of the rate case must be fully noticed in advance. This is required so that all parties to the rate case may participate, if desired, and such communications are fully documented. Outside of formal rate case meetings, BPA may answer procedural questions about the rate case but cannot discuss or negotiate the specific terms of the rates.
Ex parte restrictions are in effect from the time BPA publishes a notice in the Federal Register, which announces BPA's intent to revise rates, until the Administrator signs the Final Record of Decision concluding the rate case.
Participants make public comments
Anyone may participate in a BPA rate case by commenting or asking questions by letter, e-mail, or in person at a BPA field hearing. If submitted within the appropriate time frame, these expressions become part of the official record considered by the BPA Administrator.
Parties attend formal hearings
BPA customers and other groups with a direct interest in BPA's rates may participate as parties to the formal rate hearing process. Parties file testimony, cross-examine other parties, and are subject to cross-examination by other parties.