On December 16, 2010, FERC released several orders on reliability that showed aggressive progress for several reliability standards.  FERC proposed approval for several reliability standards for the Western Electric Coordinating Council (“WECC”) through two separate orders.  WECC developed the following standards:

  1. WECC as FAC-501-WECC-1, Transmission Maintenance,
  2. PRC-004-WECC-1, Protection System and Remedial Action Scheme Misoperation,
  3. VAR-002-WECC-1, Automatic Voltage Regulators,
  4. VAR-501-WECC-1, Power System Stabilizer, and
  5. TOP-007-WECC-1, System Operating Limits.

However, the Commission proposed modifications to the various standards including associated violation risk factors and violation severity levels.  FERC also seeks comments for several items, specifically with regard to areas where some of the WECC standards do not match the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) corresponding standards and the use of automatic voltage regulators and power system stabilizers. 

In a third and fourth order, FERC also proposed to accept NERC’s interpretation of three standards:

  1. PRC-005-1 R1, Transmission and Generation Protection System Maintenance and Testing; and various requirements for
  2. TOP-005-1, Operational Reliability Information, and
  3. IRO-005-1, Reliability Coordination – Current-Day Operations.

FERC released a fifth order approving a schedule for adopting a Frequency Response Reliability Standard.  NERC had made a compliance filing with a proposed schedule to develop the requirements for minimum levels of frequency response needed pursuant to Order No. 693, Mandatory Reliability Standards for the Bulk-Power System.

Finally, in a last order, FERC denied rehearing for the Violation Severity Levels to critical infrastructure protection of reliability standards.  The Violation Severity Levels represents the degree to which a standard was violated by assigning “Lower,” “Moderate,” “High,” or “Severe” to the violation.  The Violations Severity Level is one of the main components to calculating a base penalty for the violation.  Although FERC denied the request for rehearing, the Commission did remind the petitions that NERC and industry members can propose revised Violation Severity Levels in the future that will include historical experience along with the newly-established severity levels.