Fifteen years ago, in August 2003, inadequate system awareness, vegetation management and reliability coordination led to the worst blackout in North American history, impacting an estimated 50 million people in the midwestern and northeastern United States as well as Ontario, Canada. This blackout led to the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (August 2005). That Act of Congress called for the creation of an Electric Reliability Organization to assure a reliable bulk power system across North America. NERC was certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the ERO in 2006.
Over the past 15 years, the ERO Enterprise (i.e., NERC and the Regional Entities that operate under delegated authority from NERC) has become the independent voice for reliability and security. Over the same time period, industry has begun a significant transition toward a new and different resource mix and nation-state adversaries have become a persistent threat to the entire grid. Both of these changes create new challenges to bulk power system reliability and security. With appropriate insight and information sharing, the right set of foundational standards, careful planning and diligent operations, industry can continue to navigate these changes in a manner that results in enhanced reliability, resilience and security.
The ERO Enterprise is a key mechanism for driving these needed changes. In the coming years, the ERO Enterprise will focus on security, including CIP standards and increasing the capability of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center; working with industry and vendors on the integration of inverter-based technology; and supporting industry as it manages the rapid pace of change based on the large-scale integration of variable energy resources, deployment of energy storage technologies and increasing dependence on natural gas infrastructure.
Industry is on the front line of making these changes work, and the ERO Enterprise has become an essential part of the fabric of the industry's reliability and security ecosystem. Even with all these changes underway, the North American bulk power system remains highly reliable, resilient and secure showing improved reliability each year.
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