IEEE-USA supports task force recommendations for mandatory electricity reliability standards


WASHINGTON (9 April 2004) The U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force's final report on last August's major blackout calling for mandatory and enforceable electricity reliability standards incorporates IEEE-USA's November 2002 position:

The report (, issued Monday, identified seven violations of voluntary reliability standards administered by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) that contributed to the 14 August blackout. The outage - North America's worst blackout ever spread to eight Midwest and northeastern states and Ontario, Canada, and left 50 million people without power.

"Our nation's economy and overall welfare depends on a reliable source of electricity," said Dick Wakefield, IEEE-USA's Energy Policy Committee chair. "This report highlights the need for mandatory reliability guidelines, and clearly shows that voluntary standards alone are not adequate. I encourage all U.S. electrical engineers to review the report and to support appropriate action by federal and state decision makers."

To ensure reliability, IEEE-USA endorses federal legislation transforming NERC from a successful, voluntary, industry-created organization to one empowered with establishing mandatory compliance rules and penalties for violations. The change would strengthen NERC's mission to ensure that the North American bulk electric system is reliable, adequate and secure.

IEEE-USA thinks it is in the United States' interest to empower the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to create a self-regulating reliability organization, the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO). The ERO would give NERC the necessary legislative authority to enforce mandatory reliability standards throughout the North American electric system.

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the IEEE created in 1973 to advance the public good, while promoting the careers and public-policy interests of the more than 225,000 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

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