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Electric Reliability Update - June 19, 2017: NERC & FERC Issue a Joint Report on Restoration and Recovery Plans; NERC Issues Advisory on Ukraine Malware Discovery; NERC Penalty Activity

FERC

FERC To Hold Reliability Technical Conference On June 22 – FERC will hold a technical conference on policy issues related to the reliability of the Bulk-Power System in Washington, DC on June 22.  There will be 4 different panels:

  • Panel I: Overview on the State of Reliability

  • Panel II: International Perspectives  

  • Panel III: The Potential for Long-Term and Large-Scale Disruptions to the Bulk-Power System

  • Panel IV: Grid Security

NERC & FERC Issue a Joint Report on Restoration and Recovery Plans - June 9 – NERC and FERC issued a report on Planning Restoration Absent SCADA or Emergency Management Systems.  The report provides recommendations regarding practices, procedures and methodologies aimed to expedite system restoration during a loss of SCADA or EMS functionality, including approaches to system monitoring without SCADA or EMS tools, planning to support system restoration under such conditions, and the incorporation of such measures and approaches into system restoration training.

FERC Accepts Amendments to Texas RE Bylaws and Regional Reliability Standards Development Process - May 30 - FERC accepted via letter order amendments proposed by NERC to the Texas Reliability Entity, Inc. (Texas RE) bylaws and regional reliability standards development process. These amendments (1) eliminate the Texas RE Reliability Standards Committee and transfer its duties to the Texas RE Member Representatives Committee, (2) add a Texas RE Director Compensation Committee, and (3) revise the activities of the Texas RE Nominating Committee.

NERC

NERC Issues Advisory on Ukraine Malware Discovery - June 12 - NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) issued a LEVEL 1 NERC Alert to inform registered entities of malware that specifically targets electric industry assets and that was associated with the December 2016 attacks on Ukrainian electric utilities.  The malware can identify items and devices that control circuit breakers, and can cause loss of visibility, loss of control, manipulation of control, interruption of communications, and deletion of networked configuration files.  The E-ISAC recommends several actions to mitigate risk to the malware, including limiting privileged access to Industrial Control Systems, requiring two factor authentication, and implementing a redundant backup and recovery strategy to mitigate the malware’s data wiping functionality.

NERC Report Recommends Changes to of Solar Inverters - June 8 - A joint task force between NERC and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) investigated an August 16, 2016 system disturbance caused by a fire in Southern California that resulted in the loss of 1,200 MW of photovoltaic generation.  The report, 1,200 MW Fault-Induced Solar Photovoltaic Resource Interruption Disturbance Report, found that (1) inverters  that trip instantaneously based on near instantaneous frequency measurements are susceptible to erroneous tripping during transients generated by faults on the power system, and (2) inverters that went into momentary cessation mode due to the disturbance returned to pre-disturbance levels at a slow ramp rate.  The report included a series of recommendations to mitigate these risks in the future.

NERC Submits Geomagnetic Disturbance Research Plan - May 30 - Pursuant to FERC Order No. 830, NERC submitted its preliminary work plan to study geomagnetic disturbances and their impacts on the reliability of the Bulk-Power System. NERC identified nine different research tasks that must be completed to fulfill its obligations under Order No. 830. Due to the complexity of the research tasks and the need to tap scientific and technical personnel beyond NERC, NERC believes this project will be a multi-year research effort.

NERC Submits Report of Comparisons of Budgeted to Actual Costs for 2016 for NERC and Regional Entities - May 30 –NERC submitted a compliance filing to FERC reporting its budget-to-actual variance information for the year 2016 for NERC and the eight Regional Entities.

NERC Penalty Activity - May 31 - NERC filed with FERC a spreadsheet notice of penalty resolving 4 violations of 4 Reliability Standards totaling $89,000.

Regional Developments

NERC Requests Approval of Amendments to WECC Reliability Standards Development Procedures - June 8 - NERC submitted to FERC a petition for approval of amendments to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) Regional Reliability Standards Development Procedures to reflect a change in the NERC Compliance Registry.  The proposed amendments include alignment of WECC voting sectors with NERC voting segments, create a two-thirds affirmative fractional majority vote for WECC Regional Reliability Standards and WECC Regional Criteria, and clarified treatment of Standard Authorization Requests.

Other Developments

DOE Announces Investment in Distributed Energy Resources - June 13 - The Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability announced an investment of nearly $10 million for new research to enhance the monitoring and control of distributed energy resources by grid operators.  The investment is part of DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative to integrate conventional and renewable energy sources while maintaining grid reliability and protecting against cybersecurity threats. 

© 2017 Van Ness Feldman LLP

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About this Author

Malcolm C. McLellan, Electric Energy and Regulated Business Attorney, Van Ness Feldman, Seattle Law Firm
Partner

Malcolm’s practice focuses on the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric energy and regulated businesses. Malcolm has an intricate knowledge of the technical, legal, and business considerations facing electric utilities.  He regularly advises on Open Access Transmission Tariff and business practice compliance issues, reliability standards, standards of conduct, market behavior rules, interlocking director rules, electronic quarterly reporting, and accounting rules. He has significant experience with developing comprehensive energy compliance programs;...

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Suzanne McBride, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Energy and Gas Attorney
Of Counsel

Suzanne McBride focuses her practice on the representation of electric and natural gas utilities and oil pipeline companies on a wide range of regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and U.S. Courts of Appeal. She counsels various clients on rate development, contract and tariff provisions, regulatory compliance and investigation defense, administrative litigation, and transactional matters. She also advises on compliance with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and regional reliability standards, including self-reports, spot checks, formal audits and enforcement actions involving NERC and FERC’s Office of Enforcement.

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Darshana Singh, Energy Regulatory Law Clerk, Van Ness Feldman, D.C. Law firm
Law Clerk

Darsh Singh assists clients and firm professionals in the energy regulatory arena. Prior to joining Van Ness Feldman, Darsh served as a law clerk in the Office of Administrative Litigation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and interned at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).   While at FERC, Darsh assisted Trial Staff in natural gas and oil pipeline rate proceedings and conducted research on market-based rates.   During her time at the FTC, Darsh focused on complex antitrust and consumer protection issues. 

While at The George...

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