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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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News Release: April 18, 2006 Print this page
Docket Numbers: AD06-6-000, RM01-10-005 & RM05-30-000

Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission to meet jointly April 24 on grid reliability

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will meet jointly April 24 to discuss and promote interactions between the two agencies on matters relating to the nation's electric power grid reliability and the operation of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.

In February 2006, FERC issued an interpretive order relating to the Standards of Conduct of Transmission Providers (RM01-10-005) clarifying its standards of conduct requirements to make clear that transmission providers may communicate essential information to nuclear power plants in order to preserve power grid reliability.

The August 14, 2003, blackout led to the shutdown of nine NRC-regulated nuclear power plants. Similar to non-nuclear facilities, when the grid is lost or significantly degraded, the protective circuits of the nuclear reactor and the turbine generator automatically shut down the plant to protect equipment. Nuclear facilities are designed with backup power sources, typically emergency diesel generators, to provide power to essential safety systems. During the blackout, diesel generators kept the nine plants in a safe condition.

Both the NRC and FERC participated in a joint U.S.-Canada task force that reviewed the blackout. The agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement on September 1, 2004, to facilitate collaboration between the two agencies on power grid reliability and address the task force's recommendations.

"Our February order eliminated any ambiguity as to whether Commission rules impede communication with nuclear plant operators regarding safety and reliability," said FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher. "With our joint meeting, I look forward to building upon our Memorandum of Agreement by talking with my NRC colleagues about their relationship with the private-sector Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, and exploring whether there are any parallels FERC can draw upon as we establish an Electric Reliability Organization and mandatory reliability standards."

In addition to discussions between the Commissioners, NRC staff will discuss issues including the concept of adding new reactors to the grid and the recently issued NRC Generic Letter 2006-02 on grid reliability, while FERC staff will discuss issues including the agency's recent Interpretive Order related to the Generic Letter.

Further details are available in the notice of the joint meeting PDF.


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