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FERC gives stakeholders more time to weigh in on resilience initiative

Stressing the importance of developing "a robust record" and gathering "as much relevant information and thoughtful input as possible," the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 20 extended by 30 days the deadline for interested parties to submit reply comments in the agency's proceeding aimed at ensuring the resilience of the bulk power system.

"It is imperative that we base our next steps on the best available information, and we encourage input from stakeholders across the energy spectrum," FERC said. "Extending the time for comments will help us achieve those objectives."

When FERC in early January rejected as legally unsupported a proposal (FERC docket RM18-1) by the U.S. Department of Energy aimed at propping up financially strapped baseload generating facilities, it also initiated a new proceeding (FERC docket AD18-7) to address certain concerns underlying that proposal, namely, ensuring the resilience of the U.S. power grid.

FERC gave the nation's regional transmission organizations and independent system operators 60 days to submit filings defining the term resilience, describing the threats potentially impacting system resilience in their regions, outlining the steps they have taken to ensure that resilience and offering suggestions on action that can be taken going forward. A deadline for submitting reply comments was set for 30 days thereafter.

The grid operators responded to the mandate on March 9 as directed, and stakeholders during FERC's recent open meeting were strongly urged to file reply comments that go beyond the issues addressed in the RTO and ISO filings. But citing the sheer volume of those filings and noting that the reply comment period "comes at an unusually busy time" for the energy industry, almost a dozen large trade groups asked FERC for a 30-day extension of the April 9 deadline.

FERC in its March 20 order did just that, explaining that the reply comments now will be due May 9. In doing so, the commission reiterated that "interested entities may not only want to respond directly to the express content of the RTOs/ISOs' submissions, but also to provide their own independent perspectives and recommendations with regard to grid resilience."