FERC Chair Slams: Reliability Audit Results
Regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) say voluntary efforts by the electric utilities have fallen short of what's needed to boost grid reliability. Commission members say these shortcomings illustrate the need for mandatory transmission-system reliability standards and corresponding penalties.
Regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) say voluntary efforts by the electric utilities have fallen short of what’s needed to boost grid reliability. Commission members say these shortcomings illustrate the need for mandatory transmission-system reliability standards and corresponding penalties.
The statements were made following a late-September review of an audit program led by the North American Electric Reliability Council that was intended to check compliance with voluntary standards established in the wake of the August 2003 blackout. FERC Chairman Pat Wood , among other commission members, noted both the lack of urgency with which audits were being carried out and the vast range of compliance between best and worst operations.
As of Sept. 29, only 35 of 145 transmission-system control areas and four of 18 grid-reliability coordinators had been audited, FERC commissioners noted. In addition, commissioners stated that auditors were downplaying the failures of poorly performing organizations. These failings included:
Backup control facilities that in some cases amounted to no more than a double-wide trailer, with a folding table and laptop computer.
Operator training requirements being ignored to the extent that training hours were being used to cover vacation and sick leave.
Poor communication that, in one case, led grid managers to be confused about the amount of voltage required by a connected nuclear power plant. Additionally, grid managers in at least two audited organizations said they would ignore orders to curtail power from technicians monitoring regional operations unless they were also convinced that reliability was at stake.
Get more on this month’s news stories with the following web links:
American Wind Energy Association
Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention
National Electrical Contractors Association – National Electrical Installation Standards
Power Reliability and Security Council
Southwest Research Institute Electromagnetic Compatibility Research
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – New England District