FERC Accepts NERC Performance Assessment, Bolsters Grid Reliability

FERC Accepts NERC Performance Assessment, Bolsters Grid Reliability

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took action to ensure that the nation’s bulk power system remains secure and reliable by “approving two reliability standards and endorsing the continued work of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).”

It was the Five-Year Performance Assessment for NERC, and FERC recognized that NERC has been developing and enforcing reliability standards and that it “continues to satisfy the criteria for certification as the [Electric Reliability Organization (ERO)] that is responsible for developing and enforcing the Commission’s mandatory reliability standards” and that the regional entities of NERC continue meeting their requirements as well.

NERC and the Regional Entities have made significant achievements over the last five years, including a risk-based approach to focus resources on matters of most significance to reliability,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said.

FERC found some areas of improvement for NERC: “the ERO’s periodic audits of the Regional Entities, its use of reliability and security guidelines to address risks, performance metrics and oversight of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, sanctions guidelines and its organization certification program.”

NERC was also directed to “amend its Sanction Guidelines to provide more transparency into how it applies penalties, adjustment factors and non-monetary sanctions.” NERC must also submit ” any tools or formulas used to implement the guidelines” to FERC for review.

FERC also “approved reliability standards for Transmission System Planning Performance Requirements… and Cyber Security — Communications between Control Centers.” A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was issued by FERC “that would approve NERC’s proposed retirement of 74 of the 77 Reliability Standards developed under NERC’s Standards Efficiency Review Project, which identifies standards that provide little benefit, are administrative in nature, or are redundant.”

The standards build on the “current standard by requiring a more comprehensive study of the potential impacts of protection system single points of failure. It also sets new requirements related to planned maintenance outages and stability analysis for spare equipment strategies.”

The new cyber standard will enhance the “current Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards on mitigating risks associated with communications between bulk electric system control centers. It requires responsible entities to protect the confidentiality and integrity of real-time assessment and real-time monitoring data transmitted between control centers.” NERC has also been directed to develop more “modifications requiring protections regarding the availability of communication links and data communicated between those control centers.”

Both of these new rules will go into effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

For more information on these rules and the NERC performance assessment, you can view them at:

Order E-20

Order E-21

Order E-22

Order E-24