Platts: FERC Grants Extension on Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards Over Objection of NERC


FERC Grants Extension on Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards Over Objection of NERC

March 7, 2016

By Mark Watson

Electric industry trade associations and independent system operators have won a three-month delay in the implementation of North American Electric Reliability Corp.'s fifth iteration of critical infrastructure protection standards.

On February 25, FERC approved the February 4 request by the Edison Electric Institute, American Public Power Association, Electric Consumers Resources Council, Electric Power Supply Association, Large Public Power Council, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Transmission Access Policy Study Group, collectively known as the "Trade Associations," to defer the implementation of the critical infrastructure protection version 5 reliability standards from April 1 to July 1 to align with the effective date for another set of standards approved in Order 822.

"We are persuaded that the separate implementation dates in short succession create unnecessary administrative burdens with little or no commensurate benefit to reliability," the order states. "Therefore, we grant Trade Associations' request for an extension of time for compliance with the CIP Version 5 Reliability Standards."

The April 1 deadline had applied to taking certain steps to identify and protect cyber systems classified as having a high or medium impact on grid reliability.

However, NERC had asserted in a February 8 filing that no delay was necessary, as "NERC can adequately address the Trade Associations' concerns without delaying the implementation," because NERC was committed not to enforce the single rule modification that required different processes during the period from April through July 1.

In a February 12 response, the trade associations said Order 822 affects seven different standards "in this complex transition."

On that same date, California Independent System Operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, PJM Interconnection and the Southwest Power Pool, known as the "Joint Commenters," filed comments in support of the trade associations' position.

"While the Joint Commenters are very appreciative of NERC’s recommendations regarding deference on enforcement of certain language, the Joint Commenters respectfully suggest that the requested extension provides the most clarity and direction for the affected parties," the ISOs said.

Ultimately, FERC was persuaded by the Trade Associations' arguments for delayed implementation.

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Monday, March 7, 2016