Electricity Markets

FERC, NERC to investigate early 2018 cold weather event

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation on Sept. 12 said that they have launched a joint inquiry to assess the extreme cold weather event that occurred in the Midwest and part of the South Central U.S. in January.

On Jan. 17, 2018, regional operators in the Midwest and South Central U.S. issued public appeals for consumers to voluntarily reduce their electricity use due to abnormally cold temperatures and higher than forecast electricity demand. There were reports of multiple forced generation outages, voltage deviations and near-overloads during peak operations, FERC and NERC noted.

The inquiry will focus on identifying the causes of, and any contributing factors to, the event, and will identify any appropriate recommendations for improving operations under similar conditions.

The inquiry is not an enforcement investigation.

“Inquiries of this type are, however, among the many steps that we take to protect and safeguard the reliability of the bulk power system,” FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre said in a joint NERC/FERC news release.

FERC and NERC staff will work with the Midwest Reliability Organization, ReliabilityFirst, SERC Reliability Corporation, and the relevant involved companies.

The Midwest Reliability Organization, ReliabilityFirst are SERC Reliability Corporation are regional entities overseen by NERC.

“This inquiry is timely as it will allow us to identify and share any potential lessons learned as we approach the coming winter season,” said NERC President and CEO Jim Robb.

“It is also especially relevant that as the Western Interconnection Reliability Coordinator function fragments among multiple providers that we understand and underscore” the importance of seamless reliability coordinator-to-reliability coordinator interactions, Robb said.

The Southwest Power Pool and the California Independent System Operator are vying to provide reliability coordinator services to various entities in the region including several public power entities. Peak Reliability, the reliability coordinator for most of the Western Interconnection, in July said that it will cease operation at the end of 2019.