By Kurt L. Krieger and Nora C. Price
On March 21, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") approved new rules for managing vegetation along power line rights of way. The purpose of the approved modifications to existing electric reliability standards is to ensure the continued reliable operation of the nation's electric grid, or "bulk-power system." A recurring cause in many blackouts has been vegetation-related outages. The revised standard is intended to prevent the risk of vegetation-related outages that could lead to a sustained outage, but it is not designed to address severe weather events and natural disasters.
FERC's final rule (Order No. 777) approved a proposal submitted to FERC by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation ("NERC") to revise its existing vegetation management reliability standard (Reliability Standard FAC-003-2 [Transmission Vegetation Management]), by expanding the applicability of the existing standard, incorporating a minimum annual inspection cycle requirement, and incorporating new vegetation management clearance distances. The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The following are a few of the key features of or statements in FERC Order No. 777:
The complete text of Reliability Standard FAC-003-2 is available on the Commission's eLibrary document retrieval system in Docket No. RM12-4-000 and is posted on NERC's web site available here: http://www.nerc.com.
A copy of FERC Order No. 777 is available here.
Kurt Krieger focuses his practice in the area of energy law. He has experience representing interstate natural gas pipeline companies, midstream companies, and public utilities before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and state and commonwealth public service (or utility) commissions. Norrie Price focuses her practice in the defense of complex civil litigation. She has litigated numerous cases on behalf of energy companies including claims for injunctive relief to prevent the obstruction of or interference with utility rights of way.
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