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Cinergy Brings Heat Down on Reliability

November 29, 1999
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Cinergy Brings Heat Down on Reliability

The heat of July and Cinergy's sweaty response to it mean East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement (ECAR) rules are about to change to strongly discourage the unauthorized drawing of power from the system.

A recent ECAR investigation concluded that Cinergy broke certain ECAR and NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council) rules when it drew between 1,500 and 1,700 MW of power it did not own in six to eight different hours during the last week of July. NERC rules say a control area, such as Cinergy, must take all possible steps regardless of cost to keep load and generation in balance. ECAR findings say Cinergy did not do that.

Cinergy's actions seriously diminished the system's operating frequency, and had other factors been in play, blackouts could have ensued, said Brant Eldridge, ECAR executive manager. He said no sanctions are currently in place that would allow for the punishment of Cinergy, but that's about to change.

A recently passed ECAR resolution calls for a reprimand letter to be sent to Cinergy CEO Jim Rogers. Additionally, the ECAR membership plans to develop a sanction mechanism --- fines and revocation of control area status --- in time for next summer. ECAR is advocating that NERC do the same for the whole country. However, Cinergy can't be punished retroactively.

Cinergy spokeswoman Kathy Meinke acknowledged the power taken by the company and said the company has since returned to the system the megawatts that were taken. "That was done after the fact. I don't have specific dates, but we did notify ECAR of that, and they are aware of that.

"What occurred in July does not reflect how we normally operate or will operate in the future, and we will continue to work with ECAR in this changing industry as the industry is moving forward."

Eldridge said ECAR has not heard from any of the other nine NERC regions regarding the Cinergy matter. "Everyone involved in the reliability end of the business is well aware of what Cinergy did, and they're now aware of what ECAR did... ECAR reported to the NERC security committee last week. NERC has endorsed the actions of ECAR."

He said the Cinergy matter brings to light the fact that it's time to revamp the 1960s vintage ECAR agreement. "I don't think this specific happening was particularly contemplated, but there has been discussion in the ECAR forum for the last couple of years about the need to restructure our organization and rewrite that agreement. We had been holding off doing that in view of all the uncertainty and changes going on at the NERC level and what kind of organization NERC was going to become."

Joe Fisher, Houston

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