On October 21, 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) conditionally approved the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) 2011 business plan and budget (“2011 Budget”), as well as the 2011 business plan and budget for the Regional Entities and Western Interconnection Regional Advisory Board (“WIRAB”). 

On August 24, 2010, NERC filed its 2011 Budget, with a proposed total budget for 2011 of $53,726,465, an increase of $13,169,057, or 32.5 percent from the 2010 budget proposal.  NERC based its request on the following statutory areas: (1) Reliability Standards; (2) Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement and Organization Registration and Certification; (3) Training, Education and Operator Certification; (4) Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis; and (5) Situation Awareness and Infrastructure Security, and contribution to a Working Capital Reserve.

In its Budget application, NERC proposed a staff level of 150.75 full time employees (“FTE”), which is an increase of 19.25 FTE from its 2010 budget request.  Additionally, NERC proposed to set aside $5,000,000 to its Working Capital Reserve, and $750,000 in Other Non-Operating Expenses and use Working Capital Reserve in order to relocate NERC headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia.  The Commission conditionally accepted NERC’s business plan and budget and found it to be reasonable and costs equitably allocated among end users.  FERC directed compliance filings to address specific concerns with some particular matters.  The Commission concluded that the WIRAB 2011 budget is reasonable and approved it.

As part of the Commission’s compliance matters for NERC, FERC directed NERC to describe the roles and duties of the new departments created in 2010 and connect the duties of these new departments to the statutory program areas to make sure that the statutory functions are addressed after the reorganization is complete. Additionally, the Commission directed NERC to consider their current staff levels, as staff investigators now have to conduct event analyses and may have increased workloads.  The Commission also found small discrepancies in the Reliabilty First Corporation (“RFC”) FTE data and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (“WECC”) budget information.  The Commission directed WECC, RFC, and NERC to make compliance filings which include updated FTE and budget information.

The Commission directed NERC to include in future business plans and budget filings NERC’s progress in processing violations.  The Commission would like this to include an assessment of violation statuses by region and information on caseload and caseload management by NERC. 

A copy of the Commission’s order is available at www.ferc.gov and here.