Electric Reliability Update - April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

FERC

FERC Accepts NERC Annual Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Filing - April 14 - FERC accepted NERC’s uncontested February 23 filing of its annual Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program Report.  FERC's acceptance of the filing constitutes final agency action.  

NERC

Gerry Cauley Testifies on Grid Security at House Hearing - April 14 - NERC President and CEO Gerry Cauley testified at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Building and Emergency Management on the country's preparedness for cyber-attack or other failures of the electrical grid.  Mr. Cauley's testimony focused on the range of tools utilized by NERC to address reliability challenges facing the bulk electric power system.  Representatives from the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and industry also testified at the hearing. 

Congress

Energy Policy Modernization Act Passes Senate - April 20 - The Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, the comprehensive energy legislation spearheaded by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), by a vote of 85-12.  The bill, which returned to the Senate floor after Senators removed holds relating to the Flint water crisis and revenue sharing for offshore oil and gas production, includes a number of provisions related to cybersecurity.  Title II of the bill grants authority to the Secretary of Energy to issue emergency orders to protect the bulk-power system in the event of a cybersecurity threat, and requires FERC to adopt regulations providing cost recovery to entities required to implement actions under this emergency authority.  Title II also provides new authorization for Department of Energy research, development and demonstration to enhance energy sector cybersecurity. 

Senate Energy Bill Includes a New Grid Reliability Reporting Mandates - April 20 - The Energy Policy Modernization Act also includes two FERC reporting requirements related to grid reliability.  Title IV of the bill would require NERC, in coordination with regional entities, to prepare and make available a “reliability impact statement” any time that a federal agency proposes a major rule that may impact the bulk-power system.  The report must detail the possible impact of the proposed rule on the reliability of the bulk power system, any adverse effects the proposed rule may have, and alternatives (including a no-action alternative) to remedy those adverse effects.  The federal agency promulgating the rule would be required to “give due weight” to NERC’s expertise and provide a detailed response to the reliability report when finalizing its rule.  Title IV would also require transmission organizations to submit a report to FERC identifying the diversity of capacity resources available to them and assessing how market rules can better support a diverse generation portfolio. 

Other Developments

$357 Million Investment by DOE in Electric Reliability Technology – March 15 – The Department of Energy (DOE) published a report last month detailing its synchrophasor technology project. According to the report, DOE and industry partners invested a total of more than $357 million to deploy synchrophasor technology that will provide grid operators with “unprecedented wide-area visibility to better sense the behavior of the transmission system and improve reliability.”  Synchrophasor technology can provide time-sychronized data at a rate that allows such systems to detect disturbances that cannot be observed with SCADA systems. 

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The Van Ness Feldman Electric Reliability Update is published by Malcolm McLellanIlan GutherzVan SmithGabe TabakDarsh SinghTyler Elliott, and Michael Weiner.  Van 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.