FERC Moves to Keep Tabs on NY Summer Outages

In light of the dire predictions for the New York electricity market this summer, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has requested emergency clearance of a proposal to collect data from generators on "total or partial" outages, both planned and unplanned, in the state over the next few months.

"Commission staff has reason to believe that the New York electricity market may experience prices at very high levels during the summer season," the Commission said, in seeking prompt processing of its request from the Office of Management and Budget [IC01-720]. FERC cited a number of studies and reports that, at worst, predict an "impending electricity crisis in New York" this summer and, at best, warn that the market should be "closely watched."

"If demand does in fact exceed supply this summer, forced and scheduled outages by electric generators in New York, particularly in the New York City and Long Island areas, may contribute to or be the sole cause of the high prices that are bound to accompany a supply/demand imbalance," it warned. "In addition to causing higher prices, the outages...may lead to the necessity for blackouts to preserve transmission and distribution systems."

Commission staff has concluded that it is in the "public interest to monitor generation outages in New York to assess their causes," particularly during the peak summer cooling season. Toward this aim, FERC proposes to ask "selected generators," as many as 110, in the state of New York to electronically file data on "total or partial" generation unit outages within 24 hours of their occurrence, whether scheduled, forced or otherwise.

The Commission will seek information only from generators that "own, operate or control" generation units in New York that have a generating capacity of at least 30 MW, or an aggregating capacity of 50 MW or more. It noted it will ask New York municipalities to voluntarily supply outage data as well.

Although up to 110 generators could be subject to the reporting requirement, the Commission staff estimates that only about 15-25 generators would likely have to file an outage report during any given week. It further projects that about 2,900 outage reports would be filed during the 180 days that the reporting request would be in place. The total cost of compliance with the reporting requirement will be about $52,000, staff said.

FERC staff will request that the outage information be submitted via a template that either can be mailed to generators or can be accessed on the Commission's web site at http://www.ferc.gov. New York generators then will send the information to an electronic address, ny.outages@ferc.fed.us. The Commission had imposed a June 8 deadline for industry comments on its proposed action.

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