The Western Electricity Coordinating Council may split into two separate entities in order to eliminate any apparent conflict of interest. The problem in a nutshell, according to National American Electric Reliability Corporation chair Gerry Cauley, is that the company and its members are to assure reliability of the West\u2019s bulk electric system and at the same time is to enforce reliability standards on itself and its members. That potential conflict of interest concern is heightened by a governing board composed of member organizations that are themselves subject to regulation by the council. Cauley highlighted the need for reorganization following the Sept. 8, 2011, blackout in Southern California, Arizona, and northern Baja California. Cauley asked the organization how it could avoid the possible perception of conflict of interest in investigating an event in which its own staff played a part. Council vice president Rachel Sherrard said that due to \u201cthe optics\u201d of possible conflict of interest, the organization was precluded from investigating some aspects of the outage. The national reliability corporation subsequently also has decided to preclude the Utah-based council from investigating future major outage events due to its current governance structure. However, she noted that no federal oversight agency or audit has ever identified any actual instance of conflict of interest. Under federal policy, after a massive blackout in the Northeast in 1965 the North American Electric Reliability Corporation was formed to develop and later enforce standards and procedures to assure grid reliability. WECC was formed in 2002 as a regional forum for the power industry to discuss and develop reliability procedures and plans. The council did not play a regulatory role. Then in 2007, the nationwide reliability corporation delegated enforcement authority to the western council under the Federal Power Act, making it a regional electric reliability organization under the law. In 2009, the council set up new reliability coordination centers in Canada and Colorado to monitor the western bulk electricity system and provide information to those involved in operating the grid. The council assures reliability and serves as the regional reliability organization in the Western Interconnection, said Steven Greenlee, California Independent System Operator spokesperson. He added that CAISO is the balancing authority, planning coordinator, transmission operator, and transmission service provider for its service area. To eliminate any potential conflict of interest in WECC\u2019s role, its staff proposes to separate formal enforcement activities from the organization\u2019s broader operations as reliability coordinator. Under the plan, a new regional entity\u2019s oversight would include: -Compliance monitoring and enforcement; -Standards development; -Events analysis; and -Reliability assessment and performance analysis. A separate non-regional entity\u2019s authority would include: -Coordinating bulk electricity system reliability; -Acting as an interchange authority; -Transmission expansion planning; -System operator training; -Developing regional criteria; and -Providing interconnection tools. The new regional entity would be governed by a small, independent board and financed under the council\u2019s existing tariff. The new non-regional entity would have a larger board and would have to develop a new tariff for financial support. The council\u2019s board and membership are expected to vote on a new structure next summer after its 350 members, including California agencies like the California Independent System Operator and California Public Utilities Commission, vet a staff reorganization plan. After any vote, the restructuring plan must be federally-approved. That may take up to two years, according to the council. WECC is in charge of reliability in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico, and all or portions of the 14 western states between.