Power Agencies Seek To Preempt Politicians in Addressing Reliability

U.S. energy officials have proposed regulations requiring U.S. utilities to report reliability failures in the face of continued congressional bickering over national energy legislation, which remained unsettled as this issue of Pure Power went to press. The regulations, seen as a necessary stop-gap to address immediate concerns raised by last summer's major outage, use voluntary standards e...

03/01/2004


U.S. energy officials have proposed regulations requiring U.S. utilities to report reliability failures in the face of continued congressional bickering over national energy legislation, which remained unsettled as this issue of Pure Power went to press.

The regulations, seen as a necessary stop-gap to address immediate concerns raised by last summer's major outage, use voluntary standards established by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) as a guideline. They would require utilities to report any violations of these standards to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Utilities also would be required to file reports with FERC noting any NERC-identified violations. These points are included in the broader energy legislation, which has been held up because of disputes over provisions related to gasoline additives.

In early December, FERC chairman Pat Wood said the agency could begin adding the reporting requirements to utility transmission-rate tariffs beginning in early 2004 if the legislation has not yet been passed by that time. However, U.S. Dept. of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has questioned whether the new standards could stand up to legal scrutiny, if challenged, without legislative backing.

Missing from the interim standards is the establishment of an Electric Reliability Organization, proposed in the legislation as an oversight agency with authority over both U.S. and Canadian transmission systems. The Canadian Electricity Association has joined with U.S. reliability advocates in supporting this approach, seeing such an organization as essential, given the interconnectedness of U.S. and Canadian grids.





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