FERC this year must select a reliability czar. But the obvious choice could prove less than ideal.
Richard Stavros is Fortnightly's Executive Editor.
“If you want us to be a dictator, we can be a dictator.”
That was Richard P. Sergel, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), speaking late last year at a conference on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), hosted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and Energy Daily.
Sergel’s words followed upon this editor’s question: “Do you think NERC’s corporate culture is ideal to fill the position of Electric Reliability Organization (ERO), the new national enforcer of ‘mandatory’ reliability standards, that Congress has ordered under EPACT?”
It is not clear—to me at least—that NERC is the right candidate for the job of ERO. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should consider many more applicants (we hope they will come forward) before making what many see as the key decision for the electric utility industry.
NERC up until now has been, in its own words, “a self regulatory organization, relying on reciprocity, peer pressure, and the mutual self-interest of all those involved in the electric system.”
Nevertheless, can this tradition of kind, gentle, and voluntary consensus-building stand NERC in good stead as it seeks to transform itself in to a steel-fisted czar that would enforce mandatory standards?