1960s – Creation of regulatory organizations

In the 1960s, the operation of power systems in North America was based on the voluntary application of criteria and guidelines developed by an organization that grouped together a number of power companies – the North American Power Systems Interconnection Committee (NAPSIC) – and local planning guidelines.

Following an outage on November 9, 1965, that affected some 30 million people in the northeastern United States and Ontario, a number of reliability regulation authorities were created, including:

  • the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC)
  • the North American Electric Reliability Council, today known as the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)

NPCC was given the responsibility of regulating power system operation by developing criteria, guides and procedures that set out the compliance requirements for its members. The role of NERC is to develop reliability standards for power transmission systems. NERC also published two document suites – on operating policies and planning standards, respectively – that were used as the basis for the first reliability standards after the 2003 blackout. In addition, it created a reliability model that defines the functions of the different entities in the electricity sector and describes the standards enforcement process for each.

1970 to 2003 – Enactment of reliability legislation

In July 1977, a blackout plunged New York City into darkness and triggered a review of the standards as well as the enactment, in the U.S., of federal laws designed to promote power system reliability. But the reliability standards and criteria still remained voluntary.

Hydro-Québec became a member of NPCC in 1995 and has been voluntarily applying all NERC and NPCC requirements since then. The Québec power transmission system has become much more robust, to the benefit of Hydro-Québec’s customers.

In 1999, NERC and the NPCC set up an annual compliance monitoring program. Being one of the NPCC’s five Control Areas, Québec participated in this program from the start to prove its system operation expertise during NPCC and NERC compliance audits and self-certifications.