FERC, NERC, and NERC’s Regional Entities announced today that they will open a joint inquiry into the operations of the bulk power system during the extreme winter weather conditions that occurred during Winter Storm Elliott.
The severe cold weather over the weekend contributed to power outages affecting millions of electricity customers across the country. Although most of these outages were due to weather impacts on electric distribution facilities operated by local utilities, utilities in parts of the southeast were forced to engage in rolling blackouts and the bulk power system in other regions was significantly stressed.
“The effects of Winter Storm Elliott demonstrate yet again that our bulk power system is critical to public safety and health,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said. “The joint inquiry with NERC we are announcing today will allow us to dig deeper into exactly what happened so we can further protect the reliability of the grid.”
FERC, NERC, and the Regional Entities will work with other federal agencies, states, and utilities to identify problems with the performance of the bulk power system and, where appropriate, recommended solutions for addressing those issues.
“There will be multiple lessons learned from last week’s polar vortex that will inform future winter preparations. In addition to the load shedding in Tennessee and the Carolinas, multiple energy emergencies were declared and new demand records were set across the continent. And this was in the early weeks of a projected ‘mild’ winter,” NERC President and CEO Jim Robb said. “This storm underscores the increasing frequency of significant extreme weather events (the fifth major winter event in the last 11 years) and underscores the need for the electric sector to change its planning scenarios and preparations for extreme events.”
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