Energy dept adopts grid emergency order rule

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

U.S. energy regulators have issued a final rule governing the procedures through which the Secretary of Energy may issue an emergency order under the Federal Power Act to respond to an electric grid security emergency.

Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015, Congress authorized the Secretary of Energy to order emergency measures after the President declares a grid security emergency. Such an emergency could occur as the result of a physical attack, a cyber-attack using electronic communication, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), or a geomagnetic storm event. The FAST Act added these powers to the Federal Power Act, which contained additional language authorizing the Secretary to order temporary emergency measures as needed to serve the public interest.

On January 10, the U.S. Department of Energy published its final rule governing grid security emergency orders.  According to the Department, the procedures established by this final rule "will ensure the expeditious issuance of emergency orders under the Federal Power Act." It says the final rule establishes a "consistent yet flexible set of procedures" for regulatory engagement with impacted parties as the Department issues emergency orders. The Department says it "expects that these emergency orders would be issued rarely," but emphasized its need for flexibility in tailoring a response to the particular circumstances of any grid disruption.

The new final rule is codified in 18 C.F.R. section 205.380 et seq.

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