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Electric Reliability Update - January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016


FERC Issues SoCal Edison Determination - December 31 - FERC issued an order classifying certain SoCal Edison facilities as "facilities used in local distribution of electric energy" under Section 215 of the Federal Power Act, thereby exempting the facilities from otherwise applicable mandatory reliability standards.  For further analysis, see Van Ness Feldman's Alert entitled “FERC Applies Order No. 773 to Exempt "Facilities Used in Local Distribution" from Mandatory Electric Reliability Standards.” 

FERC Issues Notice of GMD Technical Conference - December 22 - FERC will hold a staff-led technical conference on March 1, 2016 to discuss issues related to FERC’s proposed rulemaking on Reliability Standard for Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD) Events.  The conference will address GMD-related issues including the benchmark GMD events, vulnerability assessments, and monitoring of related parameters.

FERC Approves Reliability Standard PRC-005-6 - December 18 - FERC issued a letter order approving Reliability Standard PRC-005-6 (Protection System, Automatic Reclosing, and Sudden Pressure Relaying Maintenance), for which NERC filed a petition for approval on November 13, 2015.   PRC 005-6 revises PRC-005-4 to include devices associated with certain automatic reclosing relays and to incorporate language to address the standard’s applicability to owners of dispersed generation resources.  The associated implementation plan aligns the compliance dates for all versions of PRC-005 pending enforcement (i.e., PRC-005-2(ii), PRC-005-3(i) and (ii)) with the compliance dates for PRC-005-6.


NERC Submits 2016 Reliability Standards Development Plan - December 30 - NERC submitted an informational filing containing its 2016 Reliability Standards Development Plan, which serves as a tool for management and coordination of Reliability Standards, serves as a communications tool for standards development, and provides a basis for developing further annual plans and budgets for the Reliability Standards Program.  The 2016 Development Plan identifies the current plans and priorities for development and modification of Reliability Standards over the next three years, and addresses emerging risks, new and remaining FERC directives, Paragraph 81 criteria adjustments, and standards authorization requests. 

NERC Penalty Activity - December 30 - NERC filed with FERC a spreadsheet notice of penalty resolving 40 violations of 9 Reliability Standards.

NERC Submits Compliance Filing on Regional Delegation Agreements - December 18 - NERC submitted a compliance filing seeking approval of certain changes to the pro forma Regional Delegation Agreement (RDA) and of RDAs between NERC and each of the eight Regional Entities.  FERC conditionally approved revisions to the RDAs in a November 2, 2015 order, in which it also directed these changes.

NERC Releases Essential Reliability Services Task Force Report - December 17 - NERC released its December 2015 Essential Reliability Services Task Force Measures Framework Report, which evaluates issues raised by changes to the grid’s generation resource mix, including due to coal-fired generation retirements, new  natural gas, wind, and solar generation, and the advances in demand response technologies.  The Report makes detailed recommendations with respect to frequency support, net demand ramping variability, and voltage support.


FAST Act Includes Provisions on Energy Security - Included in the transportation infrastructure bill signed by President Obama on December 4th (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Public Law No. 114-94) are amendments to the Federal Power Act (FPA) and other actions aimed at improving the security and resilience of energy infrastructure in the face of emergencies.  Among other provisions, the law authorizes the Secretary of Energy to order emergency measures during a grid security emergency, addresses the protection and voluntary sharing of critical electric infrastructure information, provides that any action or omission by a party that is necessary to comply with an emergency order under section 202(c) of the FPA will not be deemed a violation of environmental laws or regulations or subject the party to civil or criminal liability, and directs the Department of Energy, after consultation with FERC, NERC, the owners and operators of critical electric infrastructure and others, to develop and submit to Congress a plan for a Strategic Transformer Reserve.  For further analysis, see Van Ness Feldman's Alert entitled “Transportation Infrastructure Law Includes Provisions on Energy Security.”

Regional Developments

WECC Releases 2015 Year in Review - December 21 - WECC released its year-end report for 2015 highlighting its focus on four specific goals:  1) trengthening the Business, 2) Providing Valued and High-Quality Reliability Assessments and Services, 3) Bolstering WECC’s Institutional Capabilities, and 4) Increasing External Engagement.  The report states that WECC projects its 2015 budget will be approximately $1 million under spent due to contract deferrals.


The Van Ness Feldman Electric Reliability Update is published by Malcolm McLellan, Ilan Gutherz, Van Smith, Gabe Tabak, Darsh Singh, Tyler Elliott, and Michael WeinerVan Ness Feldman counsels, advises and trains a wide range of clients on reliability matters.  Please email us or call us at 206.829.1814 or 202.298.1800 for additional information.  Click here to sign up for the Reliability Update. 


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