New programs intended to boost electric reliability in eastern US

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday approved two measures intended to boost electric reliability in the East this summer. NEPOOL will pay customers for voluntary curtailments and ECAR has adopted a payment system for inadvertent energy flows.


The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday approved two measures intended to boost electric reliability in the East this summer.

The agency approved a tariff filed by the East Central Area Reliability Council (ECAR) to eliminate the economic incentive that may exist under existing rules for one utility system to "lean" on its neighboring system when energy market prices are high.

Separately, the commission also accepted the New England Power Pool's proposal to pay consumers to reduce their electric power loads during peak use periods. FERC said the payment plan will be another way for Independent System Operator New England, the grid operator, to increase reliability, if there are power shortages during peak periods this summer. The program will run from June 1 through Sept. 30. New England has been identified by the North American Reliability Council as one of the regions of the country where brownout or blackouts could occur.

Under the ECAR Inadvertent Settlement tariff, when there are inadvertent energy flows from one system to another during low voltage conditions, the utility receiving the extra energy will compensate its neighbors at prices based on current market rates.

FERC said this will eliminate the incentive that may exist under current protocols to ignore the obligation to minimize inadvertent energy flows and to, instead, view inadvertent energy as a source of low-cost power when market prices are high. Current protocols require utilities receiving inadvertent energy to return a like amount at a later date. The condition arises because electric systems are interconnected.

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