FERC Approves Modifications to Four Reliability Standards

On September 19, 2013, FERC issued a final rule approving the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) modifications to four requirements for electricity reliability. The modifications were proposed to close perceived reliability gaps associated with generator interconnection facilities without the need for most generator owners or operators to register as transmission owners or operators. FERC approved Reliability Standards FAC-001-1 and FAC-003-3 to include generator transmission facilities and approved Reliability Standards PRC-004-2.1a and PRC-005-1.1b to clarify that those standards apply to generator interconnection facilities.

In its final rule, FERC approved the changes to FAC-001 and FAC-003 to include generator interconnection facilities. Under FAC-001-1, any generator owner or operator that has agreed to evaluate the reliability impact of interconnecting a third party generator to its tie-line must now document, maintain, and publicize connection requirements that comply with various regulations. Under FAC-003-3, certain generator owners or operators must now perform vegetation management on their tie-lines.

In addition to approving modifications, FERC also approved clarifications to PRC-004 and PRC-005 to ensure that generator owners or operators do not misinterpret these Reliability Standards to exclude generator interconnection facilities. The new language in PRC-004-2.1a and PRC-005-1.1b clarifies that both the Analysis and Mitigation of Transmission and Generation Protection System Misoperation and the Transmission and Generation Protection System Maintenance and Testing requirements apply to generator interconnection facilities.

FERC also declined to refine its understanding of the term “generator interconnection facility.” However, FERC agreed with NERC that a generator owner or operator would not be required to comply with obligations associated with facilities it does not own or operate, unless it voluntarily undertakes those obligations.

While most generator owners or operators will not have to register as transmission owners or operators, FERC agreed that additional Reliability Standards or individual requirements may apply based on individual assessments. Events that could trigger an individual assessment include (1) NERC gaining new information from an analysis of an event or off-normal occurrence; (2) NERC gaining new information on a specific generator owner or operator, which could require additional registration; and (3) review of an element through the bulk electric system definition exception process.

A copy of the final rule is available here.