The process of establishing an independent, international organization to enforce reliability standards for Canada, the United States and Mexico cleared an important hurdle this summer. The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) had applied to become the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) for the United States. In July, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) approved the application.

The creation of an ERO is authorized under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. The impetus for creating such an organization stemmed from the August 2003 blackout that affected 40 million people in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States and 10 million people in eastern Canada.

To complete the process, NERC will need similar recognition from governmental authorities in Canada and Mexico. If completed, the process will give NERC the authority to enforce reliability standards on all owners, operators and users of the bulk power system. This authority will supplant the current voluntary compliance system.