As Ivan draws closer to the Gulf of Mexico, posing a threat to both the electrical and natural gas infrastructures along the coast, FERC Chairman Patrick Wood on Wednesday said the agency will give regulated energy companies more time to report infractions of the Commission’s standards of conduct that may occur during their efforts to maintain system reliability.

FERC’s standards of conduct allow regulated gas and electric transmission providers in emergency situations to take whatever steps that are necessary to keep their systems operating, including overlooking the separation of functions requirement. The rule requires that any “deviations” be reported on the Internet within 24 hours, Wood noted.

“With regards to reporting any of these deviations here [Ivan], next Monday at the close of business is fine with me, and we’ll be very flexible on waivers,” the chairman said.

“We’re interested in reliability first. The observation of the standards of conduct, while very important to this Commission, is something [we see as] second to system reliability, particularly in times like this.”

The agency’s standards of conduct bar the disclosure of information and employee sharing between affiliates and their regulated electric and natural gas transmission/pipeline owners.

To the threatened Gulf Coast, where a number of energy companies operate, “I want to just say…’Good Luck.’ Keep the lights and gas as reliable as you possibly can,” Wood said at Wednesday’s regular Commission meeting.

“I want to say on behalf of all of us, to the hard-working men and women in the gas, electric, hydro and oil pipeline industries, that we appreciate the hard work that has gone on to keep our nation’s energy customers equipped with reliable and affordable service,” he noted.

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