IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2017 - 95

also provided a forum for cooperative planning, coordination, and other joint efforts. Over the years, their
total number has varied, as mergers
and divisions occurred to accommodate changes in the physical system
and the desires of council members.
but they're still around in a modified
form; eight exist today, formally referred to as regional entities, as shown
in figure 6.
Power pools were also established
in the wake of the 1965 blackout, associations of utilities that agreed to
plan and operate their systems as if
they were a single entity. industry veteran Jack Casazza likes to say that a
power pool is an electrical merger without a financial merger. A few existed
prior to the blackout, but they proliferated afterward. many of them are still
around, with an expanded mission; today they also oversee the competitive
market for electric power generation.

most are now known as independent
system operators or regional transmission organizations.
in 1969, the regional reliability councils formed the national electric reliability Council (nerC) to coordinate
the efforts of the regional councils on an
overall basis. nerC still exists today as
the north American electric reliability
Corporation and acts as administrator of
the national reliability standards mandated by the energy Policy Act of 2005.
the nerC mandatory standards have
also been adopted in Canada. nerC
has a very precise protocol for establishing and revising its reliability standards,
as depicted in figure 7.
Over the past half-century, the power industry has continued to develop
and evolve as has its focus on reliability. the proliferation of electricity into
every home and office was one of the
great achievements of our time. in fact,
the national Academy of engineers

selected electrification and the electric
power grid as the greatest engineering
achievement of the 20th century. Some
30 years after he walked on the moon,
neil Armstrong stated, "i am, and ever
will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer. And i take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession." indeed.
So why do we still have blackouts?
the simple explanation is that, however
stringent the planning and operating
criteria are made and however rigorously they're enforced, contingencies
can occur that are more severe than
those included in the standards. there
comes a point where balance must
be achieved between economics and
reliability. Let's assume the standards
were made stringent enough to reduce
the probability of a blackout by a factor
of ten. the permitted flow on the grid
would then be much reduced; either use
of the grid would be severely curtailed,



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