On February 15, 2024, FERC approved two new extreme cold weather Reliability Standards EOP-011-4 (Emergency Operations) and TOP-002-5 (Operations Planning).

This approval is the culmination of a joint inquiry and November 2021 report (“Report”) among FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), and regional entity staff into a February 2021 cold weather reliability event that affected Texas and the South-Central United States, which was the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history.  The Report recommended reliability standard enhancements to improve extreme cold weather operations, preparedness, and coordination.Continue Reading FERC Approves Extreme Cold Weather Reliability Standards EOP-011-4 and TOP-002-5

On December 12, 2023, FERC staff offered information and recommendations to help registered entities (i.e., users, owners, and operators of the bulk electric system) improve their compliance with mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) reliability standards and their overall cybersecurity postures (the “Report”).  The recommendations are based on FERC staff’s non-public CIP audits of U.S.-based North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) registered entities during Fiscal Year 2023, which included the participation of NERC and the regional entities.  FERC staff found that registered entities generally met the mandatory requirements of the CIP Standards, although potential noncompliance and security risks remained. FERC staff also identified and made recommendations concerning other voluntary best practices that could improve cybersecurity.  FERC staff explained that the CIP standards aim to mitigate cybersecurity and physical security risks to the bulk electric system’s facilities and equipment.  The Commission approved the first set of eight mandatory CIP standards on cybersecurity on January 28, 2008, and has since revised the standards to respond to emerging cybersecurity issues.  FERC began its CIP standards audit program for registered entities in 2016 and has conducted CIP audits each year since.  Continue Reading FERC Staff Issues Report on Lessons Learned from 2023 CIP Audits

On November 16, 2023, FERC staff issued the 2023-2024 Winter Energy Market and Electric Reliability Assessment report, projecting trends and identifying considerations for energy markets and electric reliability for the upcoming winter (December through February). The report focuses on weather outlook, the state of the natural gas and electricity markets, and initiatives implemented in the wake of Winter Storm Elliott.Continue Reading FERC Staff Issues Winter Reliability Assessment Report

On October 19, 2023, FERC issued a final rule directing the North American Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop or modify reliability standards to address reliability concerns attributable to inverter-based resources (“IBRs”)—i.e., solar photovoltaic, wind, fuel cell, and battery storage resources. FERC explained that the current reliability standards were designed for a grid mostly comprised of synchronous resources, where all generators are operating at the same frequency across the grid. In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in renewable generation, such as wind and solar, which is largely nonsynchronous, meaning generators that do not operate at the same frequency as the synchronized grid. Nonsynchronous resources are often programmed to trip offline during system disturbances, resulting in the potential loss of significant amounts of generation at one time. FERC issued this order in response to the “unprecedented proportion of nonsynchronous resources” expected to connect to the grid in the coming years and the “material impact” of IBRs on the Bulk Power System, including at least 12 documented events where IBRs responded “unexpectedly and adversely” to normally cleared line faults and the largest IBR-related disturbance NERC has ever recorded. The rule directs NERC to submit the updated standards by November 4, 2026.Continue Reading FERC Directs NERC to Develop Reliability Standards for Inverter Based Resources

On June 13, 2023, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security held a hearing on the “Oversight of FERC: Adhering to a Mission of Affordable and Reliable Energy for America.” The hearing focused on reliability and the transition from fossil fuel generation to renewable resources.Continue Reading House Subcommittee Holds FERC Oversight Hearing on Improving Reliability Through Energy Expansion, Interregional Transmission, and Backing Renewables with Fossil Fuels

On June 15, 2023, FERC issued two final rules aimed at boosting bulk power system resilience by improving how grid operators assess and plan for extreme weather impacts to the transmission system. One rule directs NERC to develop a reliability standard that requires transmission system planners to account for a range of extreme weather conditions, and the other rule directs each FERC-jurisdictional transmission provider to submit an informational report to the Commission that outlines its policies and processes for conducting extreme weather vulnerability assessments.Continue Reading FERC Directs NERC to Develop New Transmission Planning Reliability Standard; Directs Transmission Providers to Submit One-Time Informational Reports on Extreme Weather Risk Assessment

On May 4, 2023, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hosted all four FERC Commissioners for an oversight hearing to focus on reliability in the face of (1) cyber-attacks, (2) coal and natural gas plant retirements, (3) severe weather, and (4) subsidies, climate policies, and market signals that encourage more intermittent resources to come online.Continue Reading FERC Commissioners Answer to Senate Committee on Fleet Transformation and Other Pressing Issues

On March 16, 2023, FERC approved a new cybersecurity reliability standard, CIP-003-9 (along with associated violation risk factors and violation security levels), proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”).  CIP-003-9 focuses on supply chain risk management for low impact Bulk Electric System (“BES”) Cyber Systems and requires: (1) responsible entities to include the topic of “vendor electronic remote access security controls” in their cyber security policies; (2) entities with low impact BES facilities to have methods for identifying and disabling vendor remote access; and (3) entities with low impact BES facilities to have methods for detecting malicious communications for vendor remote access.  The new standard aims to prevent compromises to cyber systems in the event of a known or suspected malicious communication and will become effective 36 months after FERC’s approval.Continue Reading FERC Approves Extending Risk Management Practices to Low-Impact Cyber Systems

On February 16, 2023, FERC addressed arguments raised on rehearing of its August 31, 2022, order accepting Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposal to establish a seasonal resource adequacy construct with availability-based resource accreditation (“August 2022 Order”). In doing so, FERC continued to find that MISO’s proposed transition from an annual planning resource auction to an independent auction to meet seasonal requirements is just and reasonable.Continue Reading On Rehearing, FERC Accepts MISO’s Seasonal Resource Adequacy Construct

On February 10, 2023, FERC approved the Western Resource Adequacy Program (“WRAP”) proposed by the Western Power Pool (“WPP”). The voluntary program commits participants to demonstrate prior to a given Winter or Summer season that they have sufficient capacity to meet a required planning reserve margin and have reserved 75% of the transmission to deliver that capacity to load. The WRAP also allows those who are short on capacity to call on the excess capacity of other participants during critical periods. The Southwest Power Pool, Inc. will run the operations of the program, which became effective January 1, 2023, under the oversight of WPP.Continue Reading FERC Approves Regional Resource Adequacy Program in the Western Interconnection