The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has joined the North America Electric Reliability Corp.’s (NERC) and the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council’s (FRCC) investigation into the Feb. 26, 2008, Florida blackout by initiating a non-public, formal investigation into whether any mandatory federal reliability standards were violated during the event.

FERC has been gathering information related to the blackout since the day of the incident. With today’s vote, the Commission has authorized its Office of Enforcement and Office of Electric Reliability to conduct what is known as a non-public, formal investigation, with subpoena authority, regarding any reliability standards violations that may have occurred in connection with the Florida blackout.

Non-public investigations are conducted under authority of the Federal Power Act and may involve interviews, site visits, data requests and depositions. Formal investigations involve subpoena authority. This investigation will be conducted in full coordination with the existing investigation being conducted by NERC and FRCC. FERC staffers are authorized to share information and materials gathered in the investigation fully with those organizations.

Although FERC is announcing the existence of its formal, non-public investigation, the investigation will not be conducted in public. Any information or documents obtained during the joint investigation will be non-public until FERC decides to make them public.

“The Florida blackout was a significant event that affected millions of Florida residents. One localized event affected multiple transmission lines and generators,” FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said. “FERC oversees the development and implementation of mandatory standards that protect the reliability of the nation’s bulk power system, and is ultimately responsible for reliability enforcement. We must now determine whether the Florida blackout was related to violations of the standards and to apply any lessons we learn to improve the system. I am pleased that FRCC and NERC promptly initiated this investigation and we look forward to working alongside them through its conclusion.”