Bulk Power Systems Reliability Primer

This primer provides an overview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) role in overseeing the reliable operation of the nation's bulk power system (BPS), including the FERC-certified electric reliability organization.

Technical Report

Reliability Primer (FERC 2020)
This primer provides an explanation of fundamental concepts and functions related to BPS operations. FERC's oversight and enforcement of mandatory "reliability standards" which impose requirements on the users, owners, and operators of the BPS are discussed. Finally, the role of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the FERC-certified electric reliability organization, and its relationship to electric industry stakeholders is discussed.

Topics Covered

Key BPS reliability topics covered include:

  • Genesis of NERC
  • NERC's evolution from a voluntary council to a reliability organization with mandatory BPS performance standards
  • NERC's programmatic responsibilities, including standards development, compliance and enforcement, and reliability and adequacy assessments.

Key Takeaways

This primer delivers essential background on the BPS, its operation, and reliability. The role of NERC in developing, overseeing, and enforcing reliability standards (requirements)—and their relationship to FERC—is well-described. As IEEE Std. 1547-2018 is adopted and integrated into interconnection rules or procedures, the Regional Reliability Coordinator—an entity defined by NERC's Functional Model and that holds the highest level of authority for reliable operation of the BPS—is a key stakeholder to this process. The Regional Reliability Coordinator monitors the interconnected transmission system across multiple local utilities.