NERC Begins Reliability Audits, Congress Remains Gridlocked

The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) is expected to complete an audit of the most critical areas of the U.S. grid by June 30 in an effort to prevent future outages on the scale of last August's North American blackout. Intended to verify compliance with voluntary NERC standards, the audits are being conducted as Congress continues to struggle with an omnibus energy bill incorp...

06/01/2004


The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) is expected to complete an audit of the most critical areas of the U.S. grid by June 30 in an effort to prevent future outages on the scale of last August's North American blackout. Intended to verify compliance with voluntary NERC standards, the audits are being conducted as Congress continues to struggle with an omnibus energy bill incorporating mandatory reliability standards for utilities and transmission companies.

Two experts from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are accompanying NERC investigators in all audits, and the commission is establishing a new 30-person reliability division to staff this effort. FERC's 2004 budget includes $5 million for grid-reliability oversight. The Bush administration has requested a similar amount in its 2005 budget proposal.

In its "2003-2012 Reliability Assessment," released last December, NERC forecasts that generating resources remain adequate to meet the nation's electricity demand. But transmission systems, the report says, are reaching their reliability limits in some areas. In addition, transmission capacity is not keeping pace with projected generation resources, which are expected to add approximately 89,000 MW to the nation's power supply by 2012.

However, the report notes, generation facilities are not evenly distributed across North America, and some regions may face shortfalls.





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