June 27, 2014—The Latest Dysfunctional FERC-NERC Creation!

June 27, 2014—The Latest Dysfunctional FERC-NERC Creation!

The Foundation for Resilient Societies challenges the latest inept FERC-NERC pronouncements! Time for some changes???? I think so, one way or another!

I have been writing for well over a year about the existential threat to all Americans posed by a manmade or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event that could shut down the electric power grid—and Washington’s dysfunctional  response to this threat.

Earlier this week, I noted that a major obstacle to assuring the viability of the grid in the face of this threat is the congressional creation of what I described as a dysfunctional regulatory arrangement, a “toothless” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the electric power industry’s “stooge” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) As the latest example of the irresponsible products of this arrangement I mentioned the incredibly inept June 19 report from this alleged responsible body—Reliability Standard for Geomagnetic Disturbance Operations, which can be read by clicking here.

I want to call your attention to the response to this outrageous report, by the Foundation for Resilient Societies—which is working hard to encourage the powers that be to harden the electric power grid against all possible threats. As I have written previously, I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation, Click here for their webpage.



NASHUA, NH—June 26, 2014—The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted last week to approve a standard requiring electric utilities have little more than paper plans to protect the nation’s electrical grid against catastrophic solar storms. FERC studies indicate that major solar storms are capable of causing long-term blackouts over large regions of the continent.

FERC is the lead federal agency charged with ensuring electric grid reliability. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a private corporation, is the organization designated by FERC to write and enforce grid reliability standards for all of the continental United States.

The NERC-drafted and FERC-approved standard requires that electric utilities monitor space weather, have paper plans to protect against solar storms, and document self-determined actions during storms. FERC estimates an annual compliance burden of 20 hours per utility, equivalent to yearly cost of $1,200. No practice drills or tests of solar storm protection plans would be required.

In a 2010 report sponsored by FERC, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that a severe solar storm could leave 130 million Americans without power for several years. In March 1989, a moderate solar storm blacked out the province of Quebec, Canada. In a 2010 report, Zurich Insurance estimated losses of $2 billion from the Quebec blackout. An official report of the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission and subsequent testimony before Congress established that a severe solar storm could lead to a cascading collapse of critical infrastructures.

Consistent with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the solar storm standard approved on June 19th was written not by the federal government, but by NERC, the officially-designated Electric Reliability Organization. NERC is governed by vote of its membership, with electric utilities comprising a super majority of seventy percent. Of those voting on the NERC solar storm protection standard before its submission to FERC for final approval, 92% were in favor, an unusually high percentage for NERC-drafted standards.

NERC regulates approximately 2,000 electric utilities nationwide. Ninety percent of utilities are exempted from compliance with the solar storm protection standard, including operators of 102 nuclear power reactors and all other electricity generation plants.

Under the proposed standard, electric utilities need to monitor space weather reports from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Protective plans for would be self-determined by the utilities and would not require modeling or other quantitative analysis. No instrumentation of vulnerable high voltage transformers would be required. By complying with the standard, electric utilities would get liability protection from solar storm-caused grid outages. 

Under this new federal regulatory standard for solar storms, the entire electric utility industry would be expected to expend only $238,800 per year to protect against grid outages, according to the FERC-estimated compliance burden—shifting blackout risks and costs to the public, and to states and local governments. In a 2013 report, Lloyd’s of London estimated prospective losses from a severe solar storm of $600 million to $2.6 trillion.

Foundation for Resilient Societies is a Nashua, New Hampshire based non-profit research group. For interviews, contact William Harris at williamh@resilientsocieties.org, 978-255-2203.###

How would you like your only path to life-saving medicine to be based on the recommendations of the businesses selling their medical products, without the third party independent government screening of the pharmaceutical suppliers? 

That is exactly the arrangement that the congress has provided for assuring the viability of the electric power grid in the face of an EMP threat that could lead to the death of several hundred million Americans.

Surprise! The electric power interests—and their allies in Congress—have blocked remedial actions during the past three sessions of congress . . . over four years since then Rep. Roscoe Bartlett introduced his proposed Grid Act which passed the House by voice vote and was blocked in the Senate.

And in the next Congress its successor, the Shield Act, was blocked in the House Energy and Commerce Committee—likewise, so far in the current Congress.

Something to think about as we enter the season of considering the continuation of our representatives’ past performance before the next election.

Time for some changes???? I think so . . .

What can you do?

Ask your representatives what they are doing to help?

Get involved— Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!

E-Mail Message 140627


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