November 21, 2017 / 8:36 PM / 9 months ago

CEO of U.S. power reliability group NERC resigns after arrest

(Reuters) - The organization responsible for writing U.S. power reliability rules has accepted the resignation of its chief executive, Gerry Cauley, following his arrest earlier in November on domestic violence charges.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC), in announcing Cauley’s resignation in a statement on Monday, said that Charles Berardesco had earlier been named acting chief executive while the organization searches for a new CEO.

Cauley was charged with “battery - family violence” following his arrest on Nov. 10. He was released later that day on a $2,400 bond, according to the arrest record at the Sheriff’s Office in Gwinnett County, Georgia. NERC is headquartered in Atlanta.

Cauley did not respond to emails and the message on his phone said it was disconnected.

NERC said it put Cauley on a leave of absence on Nov. 11 and named Berardesco as acting CEO. Berardesco has served as NERC’s senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary.

On Nov. 15, NERC said its board hired counsel to assist in conducting an investigation of the allegations against Cauley.

That investigation started during the same week NERC released a study analyzing the reliability of the power grid at a time of increased reliance on natural gas and renewable power plants following the retirement of numerous coal and nuclear plants.

NERC warned that the loss of some big gas pipelines could cause several gas-fired generators to go out of service at the same time.

NERC recommended regulators consider fuel diversity when developing energy policies and speed up approvals for new pipelines to enable some plants to get fuel from more than one source.

Power reliability is a hot topic in Washington following U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s call for federal regulators to adopt rules to protect so-called fuel secure plants from early retirement by compensating the units for the resilience benefits they provide.

Fuel secure plants include nuclear reactors and coal units with 90 days of fuel on site, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) filed with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Sept. 28. The DOE wants FERC to act on its proposal by Dec. 11.

FERC’s acting chair, Neil Chatterjee, said last week he wants the commission to approve an interim plan to keep coal and nuclear plants in service.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino

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