ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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NERC Granted Certification to Improve Reliability of Nation’s Power Grid

New York, Jul 26, 2006

During the past week, lengthy blackouts endured in Queens Borough, New York City, and St. Louis, Missouri, leaving more than 600,000 homes and businesses without power for as long as nine days. Meanwhile, record-breaking temperatures in California threaten to set off a sweep of blackouts across the state. The length and severity of these incidents have again piqued public concern about the reliability of the nation’s power grid, which was thrown into question after the August 2003 blackout left 50 million people in the U.S. and Canada without electricity.

The power outages coincide with a development that heralds the nation’s transition to an enforceable system of electric reliability standards. Today’s current system relies on voluntary conformance. On July 20, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified ANSI member and accredited standards developer the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) as the official Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) for the United States. Since its formation in 1968, NERC’s mission has been to ensure the reliability and security of the nation's power grid. As the ERO, NERC will have legal authority to enforce reliability standards on all owners, operators, and users of the bulk power system.

“Our mission . . . will not change, but our ability to achieve that mission will increase greatly with the new authority to enforce compliance with industry reliability standards,” said NERC chairman Richard Drouin.

NERC has submitted 102 proposed standards to the Commission for approval. The standards address timely issues such as balancing resource and demand, interconnection reliability, critical infrastructure protection, and emergency preparedness. FERC is expected to issue a rulemaking on the proposed standards later this year. The rulemaking will determine which standards meet statutory requirements and which may require further development.

A preliminary staff assessment of the standards was released by FERC in May [See related article: Electric Council Seeks Bid to Lead Reliability Standards for Nation’s Power Grid].

NERC is currently applying for similar certification by Canadian authorities and has announced its intention to seek recognition in Mexico once the necessary legislation is adopted there.