Two months ago in this space, I interviewed a power marketer and an independent power producer who sit on the operating and engineering committees of the North American Electric Reliability Council. What did they think of NERC, a group formed to prevent large-scale power outages and made up largely of volunteers from investor-owned electric utilities? Were they treated fairly? Did they have a chance to influence policy?
In general, my two "outsiders" felt satisfied with their status on the committees, though some skepticism emerged about NERC's internal decision-making process. Why, for instance, should NERC propose policy at the national level but send the ideas out to the regional councils for approval? How can marketers or IPPs hope to participate fully in NERC activities, given their skeleton staffs? (See, "Reliability, Whose Job Now?,"Jan. 15, 1997, p. 4.)
Now, however, I'm wondering whether I captured the wholesale picture. I'm starting to have doubts, after talking with a few people who have attended recent industry meetings where NERC officials have appeared to talk about their new strategic initiatives.
Some folks think that NERC wants too much reliability.
"Roving the Continent"
Much has happened since January, when NERC's Board of Trustees voted to accept the report known as Future Course of NERC, and thereby require mandatory compliance with its reliability standards.
In NERC's own words, it has been "roving the continent" (em meeting with groups and organizations to explain the steps it is taking to ensure reliability in a "changing world." But from what I hear, NERC's "roving" has set a few folks on edge.