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Bekkedahl selected to help shape new regional reliability organization
7/12/2013 1:00 PM
Larry Bekkedahl will represent large transmission operators on the newly formed Reliability Coordination Company’s advisory committee.
Larry Bekkedahl, senior vice president of Transmission Services, will help establish a new organization that will take over the region’s reliability coordinator role currently held by the
Western Electricity Coordinating Council.
In a landmark decision on June 27, the council’s board of directors agreed to split WECC into two separate organizations: one that focuses on reliability and one that performs regulatory activities. Following that decision, the WECC members selected Bekkedahl and 14 other member representatives to serve on the advisory committee of what is being called the Reliability Coordination Company.
In his role on the advisory committee, Bekkedahl will represent the interests of large transmission operators and owners, communicating BPA’s perspective to the RCCo’s independent board of directors.
“Larry’s involvement in this committee – especially at this stage of the RCCo’s development – is extremely valuable,” says Elliot Mainzer, acting deputy administrator. “From the ground up, he’ll be helping to create a company that will have a significant impact on BPA for years to come.”
WECC is one of 15 reliability coordinators registered with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. That means it provides situational awareness and real-time supervision of the entire Western Interconnection, which spans from Baja, Mexico into Canada. WECC also performs regulatory functions, including monitoring and enforcing compliance with national reliability standards.
The decision to split WECC was prompted by the Sept. 8, 2011, Southwest blackout, in which a single-point failure triggered a cascading outage that affected nearly seven million people. The blackout raised questions about WECC’s dual roles, and the corporation found that meeting its regulatory responsibilities prevented it from fully delivering on its core reliability mission.
“Reliability hinges on the transfer of knowledge between transmission operators,” Bekkedahl says. “But as demonstrated by the Southwest blackout in 2011, the flow of information today just isn’t enough.”
Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Program
is a starting point for more sharing, Bekkedahl says. BPA is a participant in WISP, a project funded by Western utilities and the Department of Energy to install more than 400 synchrophasors and build an infrastructure to improve data exchange among multiple operators.
“Shared information and oversight of balancing authorities will be the core functions of the new RCCo,” adds Bekkedahl. “This bifurcation provides the opportunity to focus on enhancing grid operation.”
BPA supported dividing WECC and was involved in the decision-making process that played out over the last year. BPA Corporate Strategy’s Edison Elizeh, who is involved in a number of WECC standing committees, played a critical role.
“Eddie was inspirational in making sure that the bifurcation took place and in making sure that the utilities were well represented under the new structure,” says Bekkedahl.
The new structure includes an independent board of directors, which is a significant change, Elizeh says. “The board members will have no association with any registered entity. That’s why the member advisory committee is so critical. They will give the utilities a voice.”
Currently, the independent board consists of three interim members. The chair is a familiar face at BPA: Brian Silverstein, former senior vice president of Transmission Services.
The new RCCo will provide the reliability coordination services within the Western Interconnection, while WECC will continue to perform its regulatory duties. Over the next five months, the RCCo member advisory committee will help decide funding issues and determine the roles and responsibilities of various committees. The RCCo will begin operating as a stand-alone organization on Jan. 1, 2014.
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