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Is FERC the rightful heir?
Fortnightly Magazine - February 2004

electric system reliability rests exclusively in the Federal Power Act. Specifically, Sections 202, 207, and 311 provide the commission with responsibilities and powers with respect to reliability," Hobson says.

Furthermore, he writes that the commission has exercised its authority in the area of reliability on a national scale by requesting the reporting of pertinent reliability data by the regional reliability councils. The data includes, among other things, descriptions of: load-shedding programs, principal communications and control systems, operating reserve policy, and contingency plans in emergency situations.

Another issue raised by a transmission expert is that many have believed for a long time that RTOs would eventually replace NERC in setting reliability standards, which are under FERC jurisdiction.

Whether you believe FERC, NERC, or some other agency should be in charge of reliability setting and enforcement, let's hope the industry acts soon and decisively. Everyone who experienced the Northeast blackouts or the Hurricane Isabel blackout has a story. For me, it was writing an article for the magazine on deadline, on a laptop with two four-hour batteries, and all by candlelight. I didn't have a quill pen to use as a backup. I hope not to have to shop for one anytime soon.


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