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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Media News Releases Archives January–March 2006

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News Release: February 16, 2006 Print this page
Docket Number: RM01-10-005

Commission clarifies standards of conduct for nuclear power facilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today clarified its standards of conduct requirements to make clear that transmission providers may communicate essential information to nuclear power plants to preserve power grid reliability.

"This order eliminates any ambiguity as to whether Commission rules impede communication with nuclear plant operators regarding safety and reliability," said Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher.

Today's order was necessary, the Commission determined, in light of a February 1, 2006, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Generic Letter on Grid Reliability and the Impact on Plant Risk and the Operability of Offsite Power. In the NRC proceeding, concerns were raised by representatives of nuclear power plants that the Commission's standards of conduct may prevent transmission personnel from communicating with personnel at nuclear power plants, thereby limiting their ability to comply with the NRC's requirements in the Generic Letter.

In today's order, the Commission clarified that transmission providers may communicate with affiliated and non-affiliated nuclear power plant facility personnel to permit compliance with the NRC's requirements in its Generic Letter. The Commission said the rule on standards of conduct, issued in November 2003, was "not intended to impede necessary communications related to safety or reliability between operators of transmission systems and nuclear power plant generators."

The Commission allows transmission providers to share with affiliates information to operate and maintain the transmission system as well as information needed to maintain interconnected facilities. This information does not include transmission or marketing information that would give a transmission provider's marketing or energy affiliates undue preference over a transmission provider's non-affiliated customers in energy markets. In addition, the Commission said, transmission providers can communicate any information to nuclear power plant personnel if the information is posted simultaneously on an Open-Access Same-Time Information System. Further, when emergency conditions exist, transmission providers are free to take necessary steps to ensure system reliability.

The Commission adopted its Standards of Conduct as a result of changes in the structure of the energy industry and established standards that apply uniformly to natural gas pipelines and transmitting public utilities. The rule is intended to make sure that transmission providers do not give their affiliates unduly preferential treatment.


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