NERC Gives Blackout Update

The Board of Trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) has committed to take immediate actions to strengthen the reliability of the North American bulk electric system and increase public confidence in that system in the wake of the August 14, 2003, blackout that affected three NERC Regions, eight states, and two provinces.

“NERC will take all necessary steps to obtain full compliance with its reliability rules,” stated NERC Chairman Richard Drouin.

“We have the assurance of leaders from all sectors of the electric industry that they strongly support our initiatives and will work with us to make sure they are implemented,” he added.

With the strong encouragement of the NERC Stakeholders Committee, the board vowed its determination to obtain full compliance with all existing and future reliability standards, and its intent to use all means available to achieve that end. Patrick H. Wood, III, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), attended the board and stakeholder meetings and expressed his full support for the board’s actions.

Specifically, the board resolved to:

• Receive and review information on violations of NERC reliability standards;

• Improve compliance with NERC reliability standards;

• Provide transparency to violations of NERC reliability standards, while respecting the confidential nature of some information and the need for a fair and deliberate due process; and

• Work closely with FERC and other applicable federal, state, and provincial regulatory authorities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico to ensure that the public interest is met with respect to compliance with reliability standards.

The board also adopted the recommendations of the NERC Steering Group that investigated the August 14 blackout. These recommendations included:

• Specific actions to correct the deficiencies that led to the August 14 blackout;

• Strategic initiatives by NERC and its regional reliability councils to strengthen compliance with existing standards and to formally track completion of recommended actions from August 14 and other significant power system events; and

• Technical initiatives to prevent or mitigate the impacts of future cascading blackouts.

“In addition to the recommendations adopted today, NERC will continue to urge Congress to pass reliability legislation that would provide for NERC to become an electric reliability organization with authority to enforce compliance with its reliability rules,” according to Michehl R. Gent, NERC president and CEO. “Until we have that legislation,” he noted, “NERC will ensure that all violations of reliability rules are identified; take prompt actions to correct violations; and keep the public and regulators properly informed of these activities.”

The full text of the board’s resolution and the approved blackout recommendations can be found at: The final NERC blackout report will be issued in March.


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