In response to a motion by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and consistent with the policy statements and pronouncements reflecting flexibility in addressing proceedings during a pandemic,1 FERC issued an order on April 17, 2020 (Extension Order)2 deferring the implementation of several FERC-approved reliability standards enforced by NERC.
These reliability standards are in the categories of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), Protection and Control (PRC), and Personnel (PER). In the Extension Order, FERC granted the following:
- a) For Reliability Standards CIP-005-6, CIP-010-3, and CIP-013-1 (relating to Cyber Security), NERC extended the implementation of these standards by three months, from the scheduled July 1, 2020 effective date to October 1, 2020;
- b) For the Reliability Standard PRC-002-2 phased-in 50 percent compliance requirement (relating to Disturbance Monitoring and Reporting), NERC extended the implementation date by six months, from the scheduled July 1, 2020 compliance date to January 1, 2021;
- c) For the Reliability Standard PRC-025-2 phased-in implementation of Attachment 1: Relay Settings, Table 1 Options 5b, 14b, 15b, and 16b (relating to Generator Relay Loadability), NERC extended the implementation date by six months, from the scheduled July 1, 2020 compliance date to January 1, 2021; and
- d) For Reliability Standards PER-006-1 and PRC-027-1 (relating to Personnel Training and Coordination of Protection Systems) and the associated new and revised NERC Glossary definitions, NERC extended the implementation of these standards by six months, from the scheduled October 1, 2020 effective date to April 1, 2021.
FERC indicated in the Extension Order that it was persuaded by NERC's statement that "granting this motion will allow registered entities to focus their immediate efforts and resources on maintaining safety and ensuring the reliability of the grid."3 In FERC's view, the deferred implementation dates constitute a "reasonable and proportionate response to the substantial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on registered entities without unduly delaying the implementation of these Reliability Standards."4
While FERC (and NERC) have demonstrated flexibility in administering their respective administrative obligations during the pandemic, they continue to expect registered entities to move forward with diligence to ensure the effective and timely implementations of these Reliability Standards. Indeed, FERC expressed its intention that registered entities will continue their work "in implementing the standards and to take advantage of the additional time to ensure they are compliant with these Reliability Standards when they become enforceable."5
Registered entities are well-advised to continue implementation efforts related to these Reliability Standards with no expectation that further extensions will be forthcoming.
1 On March 18, 2020, the Commission and NERC issued a joint statement announcing they would use regulatory discretion when considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on registered entities' ability to comply with NERC reliability standards. Please see our related blog post on April 3, 2020. https://www.dwt.com/blogs/energy--environmental-law-blog/2020/04/ferc-covid-19-response
2 Order Granting Deferred Implementation of Certain NERC Reliability Standards, 171 FERC ¶ 61,052 (2020).
3 Id. at 11.
5 Id. at 12.