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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Makes Several Reliability-Related Issuances at Its July Open Meeting

During its July 18 Open Meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made several reliability-related issuances: three Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (NOPR), one final rule approving a reliability standard, and a decision regarding South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association’s (SLECA) North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) registry appeal.

FERC proposes to approve Reliability Standard BAL-003-1 –Frequency Response and Frequency Bias Setting, Docket No. RM13-11-000

In this NOPR, FERC proposes to approve Reliability Standard BAL-003-1 (Frequency Response and Frequency Bias Setting). BAL-003-1 includes requirements pertaining to the measurement and provision of frequency response and addresses both a gap in reliability and FERC directives set forth in Order No. 693. Specifically, it establishes a minimum Frequency Response Obligation for each Balancing Authority, provides a uniform calculation of frequency response, establishes Frequency Bias Settings that establish values closer to actual Balancing Authority frequency response, and encourages coordinated automatic generation control operation. This proposal will hopefully clear up ambiguity in the existing version of BAL-003 as to whether it includes Frequency Response obligation and what that obligation entails.

While FERC proposes to approve the standard, it also identifies several concerns with the standard and seeks comments, and in some cases proposes that NERC develop modifications, conduct additional studies and/or submit a report to FERC. These concerns relate to the following:

  1. the use of median in determining the Frequency Response Measure;
  2. determination of Interconnection Frequency Response Obligation;
  3. methods of obtaining frequency response;
  4. withdrawal of primary frequency response before secondary frequency response is activated;
  5. light-load case study;
  6. assignment of Violation Risk Factors and Violation Severity Levels; and
  7. the associated and supporting documents, including Attachment A and the Procedure for ERO Support of Frequency Response and Frequency Bias Setting Standard.

Comments on this NOPR will be due in mid-September, 60 days after the NOPR is published in the Federal Register.

FERC proposes to approve revised Reliability Standard PRC-005-2 – Protection System Maintenance, Docket No. RM13-7-000

In this NOPR, FERC proposes to approve a revised Reliability Standard, PRC-005-2 (Protection System Maintenance), to supersede four existing reliability standards related to maintenance and testing of (a) protection systems and (b) underfrequency and undervoltage load shedding equipment: Reliability Standards PRC-005-1.1b (Transmission and Generation Protection System Maintenance and Testing), PRC-008-0 (Underfrequency Load Shedding Equipment Maintenance), PRC-011-0 (Undervoltage Load Shedding Equipment Maintenance) and PRC-017-0 (Special Protection System Maintenance and Testing). The revised Reliability Standard, PRC-005-2, in effect, will collapse the various requirements to test and maintain various types of Protection Systems, and hopefully will avoid some of the confusion that existed under prior standards as to what testing and maintenance programs, intervals and tasks were required for particular Protection System devices. In addition, FERC proposes to modify one violation severity level and seeks clarification and comment on three aspects of the proposed reliability standard:

  1. verification of operability and settings upon the in-service placement of new or modified protection systems;
  2. use of a four percent target for countable events in performance-based programs; and
  3. the violation severity level for certain Requirement R1 violations.

FERC also proposes to approve the six new definitions associated with proposed Reliability Standard PRC-005-2: Component, Component Type, Countable Event, Protection System Maintenance Program, Segment, and Unresolved Maintenance Issue. Finally FERC proposes to approve NERC’s proposed implementation plan for the proposed Reliability Standard, which requires entities to develop a compliant protection system maintenance program within twelve months, but allows for the transition over time of maintenance activities and documentation to conform to the new minimum maintenance activities and maximum maintenance intervals.

Comments on this NOPR will be due in mid-September, 60 days after the NOPR is published in the Federal Register.

FERC issues a NOPR to approve WECC regional Reliability Standard BAL-002-WECC-2 – Contingency Reserve, Docket No. RM13-13-000

In this NOPR, FERC proposes to approve Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) Regional Reliability Standard BAL-002-WECC-2 (Contingency Reserve). Proposed BAL-002-WECC-2 applies to balancing authorities and reserve sharing groups in the WECC Region and is meant to specify the quantity and types of contingency reserve required to ensure reliability under normal and abnormal conditions. FERC also proposes to approve the associated violation risk factors and violation severity levels, implementation plan, and effective date proposed by NERC and WECC. FERC further proposes to retire the currently-effective WECC regional Reliability Standard BAL-STD-002-0 (Operating Reserves) and to remove two WECC Regional Definitions, “Non-Spinning Reserve” and “Spinning Reserve,” from the NERC Glossary of Terms. Finally, FERC proposes to direct NERC to submit an informational filing after the first two years of implementation of the regional Reliability Standard that addresses the adequacy of contingency reserve in the Western Interconnection.

Comments on this NOPR will be due in mid-September, 60 days after the NOPR is published in the Federal Register.

FERC issues a Final Rule approving Reliability Standard MOD-028-2 – Modeling, Data, and Analysis, Docket No. RM12-19-000

In this final rule, FERC approves Modeling, Data, and Analysis Reliability Standard, MOD-028-2. In the order, FERC finds that the proposed Reliability Standard represents an improvement over the currently-effective standard, MOD-028-1 because the proposed Reliability Standard clarifies the timing and frequency of Total Transfer Capability calculations needed for Available Transfer Capability calculations. The Commission also approves NERC’s proposed implementation plan and retirement of the currently-effective standard.

FERC grants SLECA appeal of registry decision by NERC, Docket No. RC13-4-000

In this order, FERC grants SLECA’s appeal of a NERC registry decision and directs NERC to remove SLECA from the Compliance Registry as a distribution provider and load-serving entity (LSE). FERC finds that “NERC has not adequately supported its assertion that SLECA is properly registered as a distribution provider and LSE” and “has not adequately demonstrated that SLECA is “directly connected” to the Bulk-Power System as set forth in NERC’s Registry Criteria as a threshold for registering an entity as a distribution provider or LSE.” Order at P 26. While FERC granted SLECA’s appeal, it has not foreclosed NERC from re-registering SLECA in the future if it can adequately demonstrate that SLECA’s load is “directly connected” to the Bulk-Power System.

SLECA had been voluntarily registered as a distribution provider LSE since May 2008. However, on August 23, 2011, SLECA reconsidered its registration and requested that SERC removed it from the NERC Compliance Registry. SLECA argued that it should not be registered because its local distribution system is not directly connected to the bulk electric system, but rather to radial facilities (a substation that does not have looped flow capabilities). SERC denied that request on December 9, 2011, and SLECA appealed SERC’s decision to NERC, arguing that SLECA is not a user, owner or operator of the bulk electric system. The NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee (BOTCC) denied the appeal on January 8, 2013, finding that SLECA is properly registered as a distribution provider and LSE and is a user of the bulk electric system because it takes service at greater than 100 kV and “its distribution facilities (and its load) are directly connected to the LaGen 115 kV system, which is part of the BES.” The BOTCC also stated that “SLECA is not registered as a result of its ownership and operation of such radial lines. Rather, it is registered because its load is directly connected to the BES.” On January 29, 2013, SLECA filed an appeal at FERC.

On appeal, FERC found that NERC had not adequately demonstrated that SLECA’s facilities were “directly connected to the Bulk Power System” as required under NERC’s compliance registry. Recognizing that NERC and SLECA disagreed over “the fact intensive issue” regarding the nature of SLECA’s substation, FERC found that NERC had not adequately explained how these facilities could deliver power from SLECA to the bulk power system or experience networked flow. Although SLECA’s substation included 115 kV circuit switchers and associated protection schemes, FERC accepted SLECA’s claims that the protective devices were intended to protect SLECA’s radial lines and not the Bulk Power System. For these reasons, FERC granted SLECA’s appeal and ordered NERC to remove SLECA from its compliance registry.

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About this Author

Partner

Joel G. deJesus has extensive experience working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Although Mr. deJesus has represented clients on a wide variety of federal electric utility matters, he concentrates his practice advising users, owners and operators of the bulk power system in all aspects of electric reliability regulation.

202-724-6833
Associate

Jesse Halpern focuses her practice on utility compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements.

202-724-6837