Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC)

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The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is a non-profit corporate entity with a mission to promote reliability of the bulk electric grid known as the Western Interconnection.  This electric grid connects electric utilities in the West to operate at a common synchronized frequency.  Reliability in the electric sector means preventing events that could cause blackouts in one area and potentially spread to other areas across the West.  At the most fundamental level, reliability means keeping the lights on for electricity consumers.

The geographic footprint of WECC and the Western Interconnection is a vast area that extends over the western part of North America.  WECC’s footprint includes 38 Balancing Authorities in all or majority of 10 western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), small portions of 3 other states (Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas), the entire Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, and the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico. Thus, the job of maintaining reliability across the Western Interconnection extends across state and international borders.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress enacted a new system of mandatory reliability standards under the Federal Power Act to be regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in coordination with technical expertise from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).  NERC delegated some of its authority to 9 different regional entities across North America to create, monitor, and enforce mandatory reliability standards.  WECC is the regional entity that monitors and enforces reliability standards in the Western Interconnection subject to oversight by NERC and FERC.  These reliability standards apply to electric utilities and other entities that own or operate generation, transmission, or other facilities in the bulk electric system. Entities found to be in violation of reliability standards are subject to financial penalties and other enforcement actions.

WECC also promotes reliability in the Western Interconnection by serving as a central repository of data and other technical metrics about the grid.  It also performs a variety of technical analyses such as historical analyses of blackout events, operational studies, and future-looking reliability assessments under different scenarios.  These technical analyses are performed by WECC staff in collaboration with subject matter experts from electric utilities and other participating members of WECC.  WECC operations are primarily funded through federal statutory assessments on electric utilities that are proportional to power production. WECC offices are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.