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Will FERC and NERC Push for Load Management?

Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
  • 100 items added with 20,309 views
  • Jan 5, 2023

This past Christmas, much of the US faced extreme cold weather. This tough weather caused blackouts throughout the country. This is not the first time this has happened in America in recent history. But like the other recent examples, this created major hardships and put people’s lives at risk. Moreover, given the recent instances of blackouts, it seems like these other states should have learned from mistakes made a few years ago. RTO Insider has reported that as a result, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) are investigating these states.

The specific entities under investigation are Duke Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Together these groups supply much of the energy for all Southern states. The power outages caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose power for as long as two days. Both Duke Energy and Tennessee Valley Authority did work with energy users in their region to practice load management in order to reduce the strain on the grid. This put an end to the black outs. 

Both entities were apologetic. But many politicians in both of these states have called out the two organizations. Customers and politicians felt that not only were the outages bad, it was also harmful that customers did not receive more advanced notice about the outages. These customers sometimes only had minutes to prepare. Greater notice would have ensured that people could properly be ready for the hardships caused by the outages. 

FERC and NERC have not announced specificities about their investigations. It will likely match how their investigations of states like Texas worked in the past. Finding out what led to these problems is very important. By uncovering how this all happened, those responsible can face accountability, and others can learn from these mistakes.

Whatever FERC and NERC conclude, hopefully the findings of their investigation does not stop at what happened. The two governing bodies should also detail “what should happen in the future”. All entities need to continue to make an array of changes, but any change needs to include load management. As many pieces on Energy Central have covered, load management through a myriad of methods and policies can make a difference. Much more information will be needed to see what is being done and what needs to be done regarding load management. But again, it needs to be a part of any solution.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 5, 2023

It sounds like FERC may be moving outside of the moniker of the most important agency that you haven't heard of into one that's more commonly discussed and in focus. Hopefully it can do so while avoiding politicization and remaining committed to its goals!

Todd Carney's picture
Thank Todd for the Post!
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