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Electric Reliability Update - January 31, 2018

NERC

NERC Comments in Support of FERC NOPR on Coordination and Personnel Training - January 29 - NERC filed comments supporting the FERC NOPR which proposes the approval of Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 (Coordination for Protection Systems for Performance During Faults), PER-006-1 (Specific Training for Personnel) and the retirement of PRC-001-1.1(ii). NERC asserted that the proposed standards would, improve upon the existing standard and “more effectively accomplish the reliability goals of ensuring that appropriate personnel are trained on Protection Systems and that Protection System settings are appropriately studied, coordinated, and monitored.”

NERC Board of Trustees to Consider Revisions to ROP - January 24 - Upon approval by the NERC Board of Trustees, NERC would amend the Section 400 and Appendices 2 and 4C of the NERC Rules of Procedure (ROP). The proposed revisions address FERC staff’s concerns regarding the Consolidated Hearing Process by increasing the number of members in the consolidated Hearing Body by one member. In addition, the revisions correct the inconsistent use of the terms “segment” and “sector.”  The comment period ended on January 14, 2018 and NERC posted an agenda item and accompanying materials on its website. These revisions will be considered by the Board of Trustees on February 8, 2018.

NERC Interim CEO Testifies Before Senate - January 23 - The interim President and CEO of NERC, Charles Berardesco, testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The panel included Kevin McIntyre (FERC Chairman), Andrew Ott (PJM CEO and President), Gordon van Welie (ISO-NE CEO and President), Bruce Walker (Assistant Secretary at DOE’s Office of Electric Delivery and Energy Reliability), and Allison Clements (Goodgrid President). The purpose of the hearing was to examine the performance of the electric power system in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic during recent winter weather events, including bomb cyclone. An archived video of the hearing can be found here and Berardesco’s testimony is available here.

NERC Petitions for Approval of Geomagnetic Disturbance Standard- January 22 - NERC submitted a petition to FERC requesting the approval of Reliability Standard TPL-007-2, the associated implementation plan, the Violations Risk Factors and Violation Severity Levels and the retirement of currently-effective Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. The proposed standard requires owner and operators of bulk power system to conduct initial and on-going vulnerability assessments of the potential impact of defined geomagnetic disturbance events on the bulk power system equipment and as a whole. NERC stated that the proposed standard, unlike the currently-effective standard, uses the latest developments in geomagnetic disturbance research to provide enhanced criteria and requirements to address reliability risks arising from geomagnetic disturbances.

Cybersecurity

DOE and Industry Partners Showcase Advanced Cybersecurity Technology - January 23 - DOE’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program and its industry partners showcased cutting-edge technologies focused on preventing, detecting, and mitigating cyber attacks at this year’s DistribuTECH 2018 Conference.  The conference brings together industry and public sector leaders to share knowledge and problem solve with utilities and service provides concerned with grid security.  CEDS partners that displayed new technologies at the conference include, ABB, Inc., FoxGuard Solutions, General Electric Global Research, Intel, Iowa State University, Qubitekk, Inc., Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., Texas A&M University, and United Technologies Research Center.  More information about these research projects can be found here.

Other Developments

DOE Issues Final Rule on Grid Security Emergency Orders - January 10 - The U.S. Department of Energy issued a final rule establishing procedural regulations concerning the Secretary of Energy’s actions when issuing emergency orders in the event of a grid emergency.  The final rule authorizes the Secretary of Energy to order emergency measures to protect or restore the reliability of critical electric infrastructure following a Presidential declaration of a grid security emergency, which could result from physical attacks, cyber-attacks, an electromagnetic pulse, or a geomagnetic storm event.  The final rule also outlines procedures for outreach, consultation, temporary access to classified information, and compliance in the event of an emergency order. This rule has a January 10, 2018 effective date. 

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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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