FERC NERC to combine outage investigation

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) are combining their inquiries into the causes of rolling blackouts and natural gas delivery disruptions caused by cold weather in February in the Southwest.

FERC and NERC have been sharing information even as they conducted separate inquiries into the matter. With their combined efforts, both staffs will issue a joint report on the findings and recommendations and present them to FERC and to the NERC Board of Trustees.

Texas officials are looking into why the state's electric grid, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), couldn't keep up with demand on Feb. 2 which led them to impose rolling blackouts as a winter storm hit the state. In testimony, the state utility regulator said plants across the state were not adequately prepared for the drop in temperatures and icy conditions. As many as 82 power generating units representing 11,000 MW tripped offline because of the cold weather.

FERC’s investigation seeks to identify the causes of the disruptions and identify any appropriate actions for preventing their reoccurrence. Texas regulators ordered an inquiry into the power outages, including whether market manipulation played a role in the outages and natural gas supplies. Findings released May 2 from Potomac Economics found no evidence of market manipulation or power abuse.

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