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NERC Today and Tomorrow

Living in the new world of mandatory reliability standards.

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2010

enforcement actions have been effective. An additional difficulty in measuring the effect of the mandatory standards is the incomplete nature of the standards themselves, because existing standards are being revised and new standards are being developed. As the standards become more stable and the regulatory entities have more experience interpreting and enforcing the standards, concrete proof of the bulk-power system reliability will develop.

Preventing Blackouts

The importance of electricity as a service crucial to the operation of society can’t be overstated. As such, it was only a matter of time before reliability standards became mandatory. Reliability standards have changed immensely since their creation in the 1960s, but their purpose and goal remain the same: prevent blackouts.

The complex system in place today increases regulatory burdens for bulk-power system entities. However, staying informed of the changing standards and new reliability challenges will minimize the risks that affect the operations of bulk-power system participants. Benefits therefore are experienced industry wide and not just by the consumers of electricity. As the regulatory authorities develop clearer standards, streamline compliance and enforcement procedures, and become more knowledgeable of effective program implementation methods, there will be less uncertainly and confusion regarding the regulatory regime.

For now, information from sources such as training sessions, Web sites, and articles such as this assist registered entities in compliance and reach the common goal of ensuring the reliability of the bulk power system.



1. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Three-Year ERO Performance Assessment Report passim (2009) .

2. Id. at 23.

3. Id.

4. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Best Practices Task Force Report: Discussions, Conclusions and Recommendations , 9 (2005) .

5. See id. at 7-10.

6. Id. at 4-5.

7. Id . at 14.

8. Id. at 15. The Operating Committee’s purpose is to support NERC by providing opinions from the experts of interconnected systems. Its functions include advising and supporting NERC’s Reliability Readiness Program, suggesting standards and approving Reliability Coordinator plans. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Operating Committee Charter 3-4 (2008).

9. Real-Time Tools Best Practices Task Force, N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Real-Time Tools Survey Analysis and Recommendations: Final Report Executive Summary—Page 1 (2008) .

10. Id. Introduction—Page 1.

11. Id . Summary of Recommendations, Pages 20-21of 60.

12. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Programs: Reliability Readiness Program (last visited Jan. 26, 2010).

13. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Reliability Readiness Program: Examples of Excellence (last visited Jan. 26, 2010).

14. See generally U.S. Dep’t. of Energy, Smart Grid Sys. Report (2009).

15. Id. at 42.

16. Id. at 38.

17. N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Comments of the N. American Electric Reliability Corp. in Response to the Commission’s Mar. 19. 2009 Proposed Smart Grid Policy Statement , Docket No. PL09-4-000, at 13-14 (2009) .

18. Id. at 14-15.

19. Standard Drafting Team Project 2008-06, N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Draft Guidance For The Electric Sector: Categorizing Cyber Systems (2009).

20. Standard Drafting Team Project 2008-06, N. American Electric Reliability Corp., Proposed Standard CIP-002-4—Cyber Security—BES Cyber System Categorization .

21. Securing the Modern