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Entries in NERC (2)


FERC Approves Modifications and Clarifications to Reliability Standards for Generators

Analysis from guest blogger and Verrill Dana associate Braden Clement. 

On September 19, FERC issued a final rule approving modifications and clarifications to Reliability Standards (the “Standards”) proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”).  NERC is responsible for developing and enforcing Standards throughout North America and is subject to oversight by FERC.  In particular, FERC approved Standards FAC-001-1, FAC-003-3, PRC-004-2.1a, and PRC-005-1-1b.  To access a copy of the final rule, click here.

Taken together, the approved modifications will enhance reliability in two ways: first, by expanding the reach of the Standards to certain generator owners and operators; and second, by adding clarity to existing obligations applicable to protective relay systems on generator interconnection facilities. 

Specifically, FAC-001-1 extends the obligation to document, maintain, and publish facility connection requirements to any generator owner that enters into an agreement to evaluate the reliability impact of interconnecting a third-party facility to its existing facility. 

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MPUC Investigates Transmission Planning Standards Criteria

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”) has opened an investigation to review the transmission planning standards and reliability/needs assessment methodologies and assumptions used by Maine’s investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities to identify local transmission needs and the cost impacts of those methodologies.  The investigation will also explore the potential impact of newly proposed bulk electric system definitions on local transmission system planning and associated costs. 

In its December 20, 2011 Notice of Investigation, the MPUC explained that it has not reassessed the transmission and distribution components of rate base since a 1999 investigation that followed the adoption of Maine’s Electric Restructuring Act.  Since that time, policy changes have contributed “significant increases to the amount of transmission investment made in Maine and the greater New England region.”  Moreover, NERC recently drafted a revised definition of bulk electric system at FERC’s direction.  If that definition is adopted by NERC and FERC, the MPUC explained that the definition will create the need for additional upgrades to the local transmission network in Maine and will increase costs to Maine’s electricity consumers.  Further, because transmission lines below 69 kV and substation facilities do not require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, the MPUC is concerned about the possibility of a substantial build out of the transmission system that could increase customer costs without the MPUC first determining whether those facilities are in the public interest.

 As part of the investigation, Maine’s three investor-owned utilities have been directed to file preliminary reports by January 16, 2012, covering transmission planning and the identification of system needs.