Power Regulation

NRECA Working For Certainty in Grid Reforms

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 21st, 2014

Several initiatives on electric grid reliability and cyber security are under way in Washington, and NRECA is working to ensure that electric cooperatives are well considered.

NRECA is working to ensure that electric cooperatives are well considered when it comes to federal grid initiatives. (Photo by: Getty Images)

NRECA is working to ensure that electric cooperatives are well considered when it comes to federal grid initiatives. (Photo by: Getty Images)

That’s the message NRECA brought to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at a technical conference held June 10.

“We are working with all parties involved to help minimize or remove the compliance burden on distribution cooperatives that have minimal or no impact on bulk electric system reliability,” said Barry Lawson, NRECA’s associate director for power delivery and reliability, who was invited by FERC to speak at the conference.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. is reforming registration and compliance/enforcement rules and implementing a new bulk electric system definition on July 1. NRECA believes this definition will more properly recognize which electric grid facilities should be subject to NERC electric reliability standards.

“NRECA and its members are keenly aware that reliability of the bulk electric system must be maintained, and we are not supportive of registration changes that would have negative impacts,” Lawson said. “Where there are disagreements or special circumstances, the FERC-approved exception process will be an important step in determining the status of certain facilities.”

NRECA supports the risk-based registration initiative that NERC started early 2014 to build on lessons learned from eight years of audit, compliance and enforcement impacts on distribution co-ops.

“Some distribution co-ops will continue to have standard compliance responsibilities, but we are working hard to ensure that responsibilities reflect the limited impacts they may or may not have on bulk electric system reliability,” Lawson said.

NERC’s new reliability assurance initiative focuses on reforming the compliance and enforcement rules. NRECA favors the concepts of the initiative, yet there are many details that must be clarified.

These reforms will have a significant impact on the implementation of new and revised reliability standards, especially NERC’s cyber security standards, Lawson said.

“There is an urgent need to get this work done and provide industry with regulatory certainty on compliance and enforcement issues and policies,” he said. “With new and future cyber security standards being implemented over the next few years, understanding the rules of the road in compliance and enforcement is critically important now.”

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