Power Regulation

NRECA Backs Grid Enforcement Shifts

By Todd H. Cunningham | ECT Staff Writer Published: October 23rd, 2011

NRECA has expressed strong support for a proposal by the nation’s bulk power system watchdog to modify its enforcement practices.

NERC's proposal to modify its enforcement practices will allow better focus on the most serious matters, NRECA and other groups assert. (Photo By: kzenon)

NERC's proposal to modify its enforcement practices will allow better focus on the most serious matters, NRECA and other groups assert. (Photo By: kzenon)

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    The North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s  proposed “Find, Fix, Track and Report” plan “will help co-ops by providing for a more efficient and less time-consuming process for dealing with minor potential violations of reliability standards,” said Barry Lawson, NRECA associate director for power delivery and reliability.

    NERC wants to differentiate between issues posing serious reliability risks and those with lesser implications.

    This would allow the industry, NERC and regulators to refocus their attention from the growing backlog of minor violations—“administrivia”—to the most serious matters, the association contended.

    NRECA joined six other electricity trade associations to back NERC’s proposal in an Oct. 21 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket RC11-6].

    The comments pointed out that most NERC violations have little or no impact on bulk electric system reliability, yet pose an “overwhelming” demand on registered entities. There is a current enforcement backlog of more than 3,000 pending violations, and the number is rising, the associations reported.

    Under the revamp, all possible violations would continue to be uncovered and reported to the watchdog group, its regional entities, and the commission, the associations noted. Matters of lesser risk that have been corrected would be presented as “remediated issues” in a monthly report to FERC.

    Meanwhile, compliance issues posing significant threats to grid reliability would be submitted for commission review.

    With the proposal, the reliability watchdog is taking welcome steps to address concerns of industry stakeholders, Lawson added. “NRECA will continue to work with NERC and the industry to pursue additional ways to improve the program,” he said.

    Looking ahead, the initial informational filing that NERC has committed to make to FERC in mid-2012 would provide specific information on the Find, Fix, Track and Report status, the trade groups said.

    It would also offer feedback on whether the initiative had begun to shift industry, NERC and FERC resources by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of documenting compliance and handling minor enforcement matters, they added.

    The associations recommended that FERC consider convening a technical conference in 2012 to address policy-level issues: “broader goals, priorities, cost impacts and practical challenges for NERC compliance and enforcement.”


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