On May 17, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) in which it proposed to approve Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 (Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events) submitted by the North American Electric Corporation (“NERC”).  Geomagnetic disturbance (“GMD”) events result from charged particles ejected from the sun that interact with and cause changes in the earth’s magnetic fields, impacting flows on electric power systems and potentially causing voltage instability and equipment failure.

NERC submitted the proposed Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 for approval in response to a Commission directive in Order No. 830.  Order No. 830 directed NERC to modify the previously-effective GMD Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 (Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events) to: (1) to revise the benchmark GMD event definition, regarding the required GMD Vulnerability Assessments and transformer thermal impact assessments, to broaden the definition beyond just spatially-averaged data; (2) require the collection of necessary geomagnetically‐induced currents monitoring and magnetometer data; and (3) include a one-year deadline for the completion of corrective action plans and two- and four-year deadlines to complete mitigation actions involving non-hardware and hardware mitigation, respectively.

According to FERC, proposed Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 satisfies Order No. 830’s directive to conduct supplemental GMD vulnerability and thermal impact assessments, however, it does not require any mitigation of the vulnerabilities that are identified in the supplement assessment.  Therefore, FERC proposes to direct NERC to modify the standard to require applicable entities to develop and implement corrective action plans to mitigate supplemental GMD vulnerabilities.  The proposed Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 also includes a Requirement R7.4 which permits applicable entities to extend corrective action plan implementation deadlines, where Order No. 830 authorized NERC to consider extensions on a case-by-case basis.  FERC seeks comment on the need for the Requirement R7.4.  Specifically, FERC proposes two options in response to Requirement R7.4 of the proposed Reliability Standard: (1) to direct NERC to modify the Reliability Standard to bring the proposed standard into alignment with the Order No. 830’s directive to consider extensions on a case-by-case basis; or (2) FERC would approve proposed Requirement R7.4.  Based on the comments received, FERC may also approve the requirement but direct NERC to prepare and submit a report concerning the use of correct action plan deadline extensions within 12 months from the date on which the applicable entities must comply with Requirement R7.4.

Comments are due sixty days after date of publication in the Federal Register.  A copy of FERC’s NOPR is available here.