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Electric Reliability Update - March 30, 2018

NERC

NERC Appoints New President - March 16 - The NERC Board of Trustees appointed James (“Jim”) B. Robb as NERC’s new President and CEO. Mr. Robb is currently the CEO of WECC and will begin his role as NERC’s President and CEO on April 9.

NERC Files Comments on Proposed Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards - March 26 - NERC filed comments on FERC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to approve Reliability Standards CIP-013-1 (Cyber Security – Supply Chain Risk Management), CIP-005-6 (Cyber Security – Electronic Security Perimeters) and CIP-010-3 (Cyber Security – Configuration Change Management and Vulnerability Assessments).  The proposed standards, which would address FERC’s directives in Order No. 829, would modify currently-effective CIP Reliability Standards to reduce cybersecurity risks associated with supply chain management. 

NERC Submits Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-025-2 (Generator Relay Loadability) - March 16 – NERC submitted a petition for approval of proposed Reliability Standard PRC-025-2 (Generator Relay Loadability), which addresses setting load-responsive protective relays associated with generation facilities at a level to prevent unnecessary tripping of generators during a system disturbance for conditions that do not pose a risk of damage to the associated equipment. Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-025-2 improves upon currently-effective Reliability Standard PRC-025-1 by addressing certain relay setting application issues and by clarifying certain terminology and references. NERC asked FERC to find the proposed standard just and reasonable and also requests that FERC approve the associated implementation plan, violation risk factors, and violation severity levels.

NERC and WECC Jointly Submit Proposed Regional Reliability Standard FAC-501-WECC-2 (Transmission Maintenance) - March 16 – NERC and WECC filed with FERC a joint petition for approval of proposed Regional Reliability Standard FAC-501-WECC-2 (Transmission Maintenance), the purpose of which is to ensure that each transmission owner of major WECC transmission paths have a Transmission Maintenance and Inspection Plan (“TMIP”) and performs and documents maintenance and inspection activities in accordance with the TMIP. The proposed standard was developed following a periodic review of the currently-effective version of the standard, FAC-501-WECC-1, which became effective in 2011. NERC asked FERC to find the proposed standard just and reasonable and also requests that FERC approve the associated implementation plan, violation risk factors, and violation severity levels.

NERC Requests Approval of Amended Compliance and Certification Committee Charter - March 15 - NERC submitted to FERC a petition for approval of proposed amendments to its Compliance and Certification Committee (“CCC”)  Charter. The CCC engages with, supports, and advises the NERC Board and NERC regarding all facets of the NERC Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program, Organization Registration program, and Organization Certification program. The proposed revisions relate to the participation of CCC observers in NERC audits of the Regional Entities in accordance with Appendix 4A of the NERC Rules of Procedure.

Two Reliability Standards Become Effective April 1, 2018

The following standards have an effective date of April 1, 2018:

Seventh Annual Human Performance Conference - March 27-29 - NERC’s Seventh Annual Human Performance Conference, focused on improving human performance with respect to the bulk power system, was held in Atlanta, Georgia

Cybersecurity

Russian and Iranian Hackers Linked to Cyberattacks on FERC and Nuclear Power Industry - March 21 - U.S. security officials linked several cyberattacks on the nuclear power industry to a Russian government hacking operation.  The attacks, aimed at the energy grid and other power infrastructure, took place in 2017 and occurred as early as 2016.  At a recent Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials explained that although many nuclear power plant networks were affected, no safety, security, or emergency preparedness functions were impacted.  FERC was also targeted by an Iran-based company that reportedly stole email account information from several employees.  FERC is working with federal law enforcement authorities to evaluate the nature of the stolen information.

NIST Releases Draft of Systems Security Engineering Volume 2 - March 21 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology released the initial public draft of NIST Special Publication 800-160 Volume 2, Systems Security Engineering:  Cyber Resiliency Considerations for the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems, providing guidelines for organizations to address Advanced Persistent Threats - threats to IT infrastructure orchestrated for purposes of exfiltrating information, undermining, or impeding critical aspects of a mission, program, or organization.  Volume 2 is meant to be used in conjunction with NIST Special Publication 800-160 Volume 1, Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems, which is the flagship Systems Security Engineering guideline (formerly referred to only as SP 800-160).

Other Developments

FirstEnergy Requests DOE Emergency Order - March 29 - FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES) submitted a request to the Department of Energy for an emergency order under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to prevent premature retirement of nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the PJM footprint.  Specifically, FES requests that DOE issue an order directing certain existing nuclear and coal-fired generators to enter into contracts with PJM to generate and deliver electric energy, and for PJM to compensate at-risk nuclear and coal-fired power plants “for the full benefits they provide to energy markets and the public at large, including fuel security and diversity.”

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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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