Reed Smith Client Alerts

Recent cold weather outages and other problems related to extreme winter conditions have spurred action by federal regulators. On February 16, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) and the North Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) announced a joint inquiry into the operations of the bulk-power systems in the Midwest and South central states during the recent extreme weather, which resulted in utility outages, among other events, in recent weeks. On February 22, 2021, FERC announced its plans to investigate whether market manipulation occurred in the electric and natural gas wholesale markets during the recent cold snap and to study the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability.

FERC and NERC recently announced a joint inquiry into the operations of the bulk-power system during the cold weather event (read NERC’s announcement). FERC and NERC will work with other federal agencies, states, regional entities, and utilities to identify issues with the bulk-power system performance and will recommend solutions, as appropriate. This effort will likely focus on bulk-power operations within and outside of regional transmission organizations and system operators such as the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). It is important to note that although FERC does not exercise jurisdiction over the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), ERCOT market participants who operate bulk-power systems are subject to NERC jurisdiction.