On June 20, 2013, the Commission accepted the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) compliance filing concerning the progress of its Find, Fix, Track and Report (“FFT”) program, and approved certain enhancements offered by NERC aimed at improving processing time for FFTs and allowing more possible violations to be processed as FFTs.

On March 15, 2012, the Commission conditionally approved NERC’s proposal to implement an FFT program (see March 19, 2012 edition of the WER).  The FFT program was intended to treat “low-risk” reliability standard violations in a different way than more serious violations.  In the March 2012 order, the Commission required NERC to file a 12-month report outlining the effect of the FFT program on various aspects of NERC’s compliance program, and its effect on improvement of Bulk-Power System reliability.  In its 12-month compliance filing (“Report”), NERC indicated that the FFT program “freed” NERC and the respective Regional Entities (to whom NERC has delegated enforcement authority) to apply more of their resources to “serious and substantial risks,” helped address NERC’s backlog of cases, and helped reduce issues in NERC’s caseload that date prior to 2011.  NERC further reported that the FFT program has allowed resources to focus more on events with a greater potential risk to reliability.

In addition to reporting on the progress of the FFT program, NERC proposed to change the FFT program in several ways:

  • Increasing the risk parameter to include a “limited pool” of moderate risk violations;
  • No longer requiring senior officers to certify completion of remediation;
  • Affording FFT treatment to possible violations not yet mitigated;
  • Limiting NERC’s review to only sampling a subset of FFTs; and
  • Replacing monthly FFT information filings to the Commission with monthly postings to NERC or Regional Entity websites.

In its June 20th Order, the Commission accepted NERC’s proposal to expand the FFT program to include some moderate risk possible violations, subject to a report on implementation within one year of its order, which includes: (1) additional information on the types of FFTs that were “moderate risk” possible violations; (2) the factors that the Regional Entities relied upon to make this determination; and (3) a detailed explanation of the steps NERC has taken to ensure that the Regional Entities are consistent in determining risk.  The Commission approved NERC’s proposal to allow possible violations not yet completely mitigated to be submitted as FFTs by Regional Entities and to allow Regional Entities to post FFTs on a common website at the end of the month, rather than NERC’s current monthly filing to FERC.  The Commission clarified that a possible violation under the FFT program with ongoing mitigation would not be “closed” until the mitigation is complete.  The Commission rejected NERC’s proposal to remove the requirement that senior officers certify completion of remediation, as it was not persuaded that this requirement “imposes a burden on the registered entity in light of the limited experience with the FFT program.”

A copy of the Commission’s order is available here.