FERC finalizes nuclear reliability standards, approves ERO budgets for 2009

Washington, D.C., Oct. 21, 2008 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) finalized a reliability standard developed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that coordinates certain activities between nuclear power plants and transmission entities. In a separate order, FERC is seeking comment on reliability standards on facilities design, connections and maintenance.

“The reliability of the bulk power system is paramount to this nation, and our actions today strengthen system reliability and promote enhanced coordination among users of the grid while ensuring fair play,” FERC chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said.

FERC’s final rule on the “Nuclear Plant Interface Coordination Reliability Standard” requires a nuclear plant generator operator and its suppliers of offsite power and related transmission and distribution services to coordinate requirements for safe and reliable nuclear plant operation and system operating limits. The final rule, for the most part, adopts measures outlined in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) issued in March 2008.

The final rule directs modifications to the violation risk factors for the reliability standard and approves additional glossary terms, and directs NERC to clarify references to the certain concerns raised in comments on the NOPR.

In a separate action, FERC issued a NOPR seeking comment on three revised reliability standards concerning facilities design, connections and maintenance. These revised reliability standards set requirements for the development and communication of system operating limits of the bulk-power system for use in the planning and operations areas. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

In a third order, FERC conditionally accepted NERC’s 2009 business plan and budget, as well as those of each regional entity and of the Western Interconnection Regional Advisory Body. FERC directed NERC to file a compliance filing that further explains funding levels by NERC and a possible supplemental request in light of the FERC’s concerns about adequate funding for certain activities.

In July 2006, FERC designated the NERC as the Electric Reliability Organization under section 215 of the Federal Power Act, a new provision added by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to establish a system of mandatory, enforceable reliability standards under the commission’s oversight.

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