What is the bulk power system or bulk electric system?NERC defines the bulk power system as the electricity power generation facilities combined with the high-voltage transmission system, which together create and transport electricity around North America. Put another way, the bulk power system is the continent’s electricity system except for the local electricity facilities you see in your town or city. NERC does not deliver power directly to homes and businesses. That service generally is provided by a local utility of some kind. Local delivery is under the jurisdiction of state, provincial or local utility regulatory agencies.
When was NERC created and why?NERC was founded in 1968 by representatives of the electric utility industry, for the purpose of developing and promoting voluntary compliance with rules and protocols for the reliable operation of the bulk power electric transmission systems of North America.
How does NERC define reliability?NERC defines a reliable bulk power system as one that is able to meet the electricity needs of end-use customers even when unexpected equipment failures or other factors reduce the amount of available electricity. NERC divides reliability into two categories:
What is the ERO?Electricity reliability organization refers to NERC’s role as the independent entity that develops and enforces mandatory standards for the reliable operation and planning of the bulk power system throughout North America, as called for in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. NERC was designated as the “electricity reliability organization” by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 20, 2006.
Role & ResponsibilityWhat is NERC's role in the industry?NERC’s mission is to improve the reliability and security of the bulk power system in the United States, Canada and part of Mexico. The organization aims to do that not only by enforcing compliance with mandatory reliability standards, but also by acting as a catalyst for positive change -- including shedding light on system weaknesses, helping industry participants operate and plan to the highest possible level, and communicating lessons learned throughout the industry.
What does NERC do?NERC develops and enforces reliability standards; monitors the bulk power system; assesses adequacy annually via a 10-year forecast and winter and summer forecasts; audits owners, operators, and users for preparedness; and educates and trains industry personnel.
How has NERC's role changed over the years?Historically, NERC connected the various industry participants through a voluntary council. That changed with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which called for the creation of an international electricity reliability organization. EPAct marked a fundamental shift in electricity regulation in the United States.
What did NERC do to assume its new role?Many aspects of NERC’s traditional operations provided a solid foundation upon which to build the ERO, including governance by an independent Board of Trustees; an open and balanced standards development process; an effective program of monitoring and enforcing compliance with standards; technical excellence; an established ability to oversee regional reliability programs; and a philosophy of including stakeholders in regular operations and decision-making.
NERC has transformed into the strong, independent organization authorized by the legislation by working with industry stakeholders and federal agencies to ensure all views were considered fully, the greatest level of consensus possible achieved, and trust and confidence of regulators, industry and the public gained.
In its application to FERC to be named the electricity reliability organization, NERC defined its proposed structure, governance and operational procedures. NERC also defined the respective authorities and responsibilities of NERC, the regional entities and the bulk power system owners, operators and users within the jurisdiction of NERC for reliability purposes. The application also included NERC’s bylaws, rules of procedure, regional delegation agreements, and a transition plan.
In 2005, NERC revised its reliability standards.
When did NERC's role change?The transition from voluntary member organization into the independent authority charged with ensuring legal compliance with mandatory reliability standards was phased in. From its creation in 1968 until approximately July 2006, NERC operated as a voluntary industry organization. In July 2006, FERC certified NERC as the electric reliability organization for the United States, and preparations began for its new, expanded role. On June 18, 2007, compliance with NERC Reliability Standards became a legal requirement for bulk power system owners, operators and users.
What is FERC's role?The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a federal agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. FERC oversees NERC in the United States, as do provincial governments in Canada.
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