The Energy Industry Standards Board doesn't exist yet, but it's got regulators talking.
“Are we fractionating?" asked new commissioner Patrick Wood, in his best imitation of the splintered syntax of his mentor, President George W. Bush.
"Do we have a NERC bias?" asked Nora Brownell, Wood's republican stable mate on the newly filled-out FERC.
These comments, heard at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 19 at the "seams" conference on coordination between regional transmission organizations (RTOs), could herald a new phase in the business of electric utility reliability. They cast doubt on whether the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) still has the inside track on setting electric reliability standards, even if Congress should enact the legislation that NERC has drafted after its own image to ensure its survival as an industry institution.
More than two years ago, I suggested in this column that regional independent system operators (ISOs) would likely supplant the regional reliability councils as the caretakers of electric system reliability. And that's still possible—if the ISOs move quickly to RTO status, and if the RTOs get cracking right away on adopting uniform business rules.
But the FERC may get tired waiting for that to happen.