The legislation empowers the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to create an Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) to establish and enforce mandatory reliability standards of the North American electric system, including elements in Canada and Mexico. The ERO will collect dues from bulk power system owners and operators and have the authority to fine those not in compliance.
The energy bill, which the President is expected to sign Monday, also directs the Department of Energy to adopt IEEE Standard 1547 as the national technical standard for interconnecting distributed energy resources to the electric power grid. The "Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems," approved by the IEEE Standards Board in June 2003, addresses performance, operation, testing and safety of the interconnection of products and services, such as hardware and software for distributed power control and communication.
"We commend Congress for recognizing the importance of creating the ERO," IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee Chair Fernando Alvarado said. "Adoption of IEEE 1547 and the creation of the ERO will help ensure the reliability, security and diversity of the electric power grid, which is essential to our nation's economic health and national security."
IEEE-USA has been working on the establishment of an ERO since Nov. 2002, when it released a reliability position (www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/reliability.html). The organization proposed the interconnection standard a year earlier (www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/interconnection.html).
The ERO is designed to help prevent a repeat of the Aug. 2003 cascading blackout that affected 50 million people in the northeastern United States and parts of the Midwest and Canada. IEEE 1547 will facilitate the development of distributed energy generation technologies such as fuel cells, photovoltaics and wind turbines. The standard's criteria and resources also address product quality, interoperability, design, engineering, installation and certification.
IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the IEEE. It was created in 1973 to advance the public good and promote the careers and public policy interests of the more than 220,000 technology professionals who are U.S. members of the IEEE. The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society. For more information, go to www.ieeeusa.org.