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Electric Reliability Update - April 4, 2017: NERC Petitions FERC for Approval of Proposed Emergency Operations Reliability Standards; NERC Hosts Reliability Leadership Summit; Texas RE Releases 2016 Annual Report

NERC

NERC Petitions FERC for Approval of Proposed Emergency Operations Reliability Standards - March 27 - NERC petitioned FERC for approval of four different Emergency Operations ("EOP") Reliability Standards: EOP-004-4 (Event Reporting), EOP-005-3 (System Restoration and Blackstart Resources), EOP-006-3 (System Restoration Coordination) and EOP-008-2 (Loss of Control Center Functionality). The proposed standards are designed to respectively provide accurate reporting of to NERC's Event Analysis group to analyze the impact of the Bulk Reliability System; delineate the role and responsibilities of entities that support System restoration from Blackstart Resources; clarify the procedures and requirements for Reliability Coordinator Personnel to execute System restoration processes; and refine the required elements of an Operating Plan used to continue reliable operations of the Bulk Electric System in the event that primary control functionality is lost. 

NAESB submits Status Report on the Reservation of WEQ-06 Manual Time Error Correction Business Practice Standards – March 27-  The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) submitted a status report to FERC on NAESB standards development efforts corresponding to NERC efforts to retire Reliability Standard BAL-004-0 (Time Error Correction).  NAESB has reserved the complementary business practice standards WEQ-006 Manual Time Error Correction, which are scheduled for release later this year.

NERC Hosts Reliability Leadership Summit - March 21 - NERC hosted its fourth Reliability Leadership Summit bringing together industry executives, state and federal regulators, and other stakeholders to identify and discuss challenges to security of the bulk power system; resiliency and security; and emerging risks to reliability.

Cybersecurity and Grid Security

House Homeland Security Committee Holds Hearing on DHS Cyberdefense Role - March 22 - The House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing entitled "A Borderless Battle: Defending Against Cyber Threats" to discuss with cybersecurity experts the evolving cyber threat landscape and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) civilian cyber defense mission.  Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) discussed  his plan to make the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate a line agency within DHS rather than a subcomponent of DHS headquarters.

ESCC Leaders Meet with Trump Administration Officials - March 22 - Leaders of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) met with high-ranking members of the Trump Administration, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and acting FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur.  The meetings focused on managing the transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration, and addressed the need to continue cyberthreat intelligence sharing by the federal government with the electricity sector, the need for a quorum at FERC, and other issues.

ICS-CERT Releases Annual Report on Critical Infrastructure and Cybersecurity - March 22 – The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team(ICS-CERT), a branch of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, released its 2016 Year in Review highlighting increased cybersecurity assessments and informational products.  The ICS-CERT Incident Response team completed work on 290 incidents with the energy sector accounting for 59 of them. 

Regional Developments

Texas RE Releases 2016 Annual Report - March - Texas RE released its 2016 Annual Report, which provides a summary of yearly activities in each of its NERC Program Areas,   and information about its Protocol Compliance group and external outreach efforts.  The report highlights approval of changes to the Texas RE bylaws to increase efficiency, outreach on Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards, improvement of Enforcement processing, and increasing staff participation on ERO projects.

ReliabilityFirst Releases 2016 Annual Report - March - ReliabilityFirst released its Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2016.  The report describes ReliabilityFirst's goals to ensure security and resiliency through its core functions of Risk Identification; Risk Mitigation; and Risk Communication.  The report notes that a key focus in 2016 was Risk Communication, with CIP Version 5 preparation and transition assistance being a focus.  The report also highlights numerous education and outreach activities and collaborative work with NERC to strengthen the Risk-Based Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program.

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About this Author

Malcolm C. McLellan, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Seattle, Cybersecurity and Energy Law Attorney
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 Keppeler, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Energy and Gas Attorney
Of Counsel

Suzanne Keppeler 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, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Washington DC, Cybersecurity and Energy Law Attorney
Associate

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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