On Monday, January 6, the Board of Trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) voted unanimously to require mandatory compliance from its regional and affiliate councils with all reliability "policies" adopted by NERC. Previously, the regional councils (MAPP, ERCOT, ECAR, etc.) were only required to give their "best efforts" to comply.
As the board explains, "Compliance with NERC rules needs to be insured, but peer pressure will not be sufficient."
This new vote stems from "A Call to Action," mailed out on October 28 by Richard J. Grossi, NERC chairman. In that letter, citing outages that plagued the West last summer, Grossi hinted of new changes: "It will mean modification of the voluntary confederation of reliability groups that has worked so successfully, to a new model... to deal with a very different industry than when NERC was formed nearly three decades ago."
But change has been brewing for some time.
"this is something that goes back several years," says Eugene F. Gorzelnik, NERC's communications director.
"You may remember the NERC 2000 report published back in September 1993, which led to the formation of the original "Future Role of NERC Task Force," which called for the various regional councils to open up their membership roles to independent power producers (IPPs), power marketers, and so forth, and to form ties with regional transmission groups and other organizations.
"We figured that would take us through the year 2000," Gorzelnik explains."But then the FERC came out with its NOPR [notice of proposed rulemaking] in the spring of 1995, and things started to move quicker. And then obviously the disturbances last summer in the WSSC speeded things up even more."