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PSC writing electric 'reliability rules' for investor-owned utilities

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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North Dakota Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann (l), chairman Julie Fedorchak and Brian Kroshus

The Public Service Commission has drafted “standards of service” rules for the electric utilities it regulates.

Commisioner Brian Kroshus said this comes after the legislature passed Senate Bill 2313. He says as a part of that bill, the Commission was tasked with developing specifics on reliability and continuity of electric service.
Kroshus saids what triggered this was the February cold snap – and how it affected North Dakota’s power customers.

"There were rolling blackouts that occurred during that time period, lasting approximately 90 minutes in duration," Kroshus said.

Customers affected by the rolling blackouts were in areas served by rural electric co-operatives, and happened because the Southwest Power Pool was diverting electricity to Texas and the southwest. But the PSC does not have authority over co-ops.

Kroshus said the rules clarify the PSC’s authority over the investor-owned public utilities.

"We have criteria in place, as directed by the Legislature, to measure reliability of service," Kroshus said. "If there is an issue related to that, we do have the authority — which we did before, but this provides some clarity in the process — to levy a fine against that utility."

But Kroshus points out that North Dakota is among the best in the nation when it comes to reliability.

"North Dakota has one of the lowest numbers, in terms of minutes of outage on a annual basis, in the country," Kroshus said. "Our providers are doing an excellent job in making sure that the lights stay on."

The rules are now being reviewed by the Attorney General’s office – and will eventually be reviewed by the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.

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