Beware of the NERC CIP Consultant Rumors Being Spread

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I’ve noticed a new and troubling trend recently: There are a few NERC CIP consultant rumors afloat. Consultants and firms are using scare tactics to scare potential clients into becoming paying customers. Many of these consultants use misinformation and half-truths to spread their fear mongering on social network sites such as LinkedIn. Unless FERC, NERC or one or more of the eight Regional Entities has been directly quoted, naming the source, or if you can’t confirm comments or statements by a consultant, it is recommended that you contact these organizations for confirmation.

A good example of this is that there is a consulting firm spreading wild rumors and accusations around that there is going to be a CIP version 5, with set of rules that is radically different than what is in place now. Well, having spoken to Commissioner Spitzer’s office at FERC, there are no immediate plans for a version 5 of the CIP requirements that they will confirm. Version 4 has not even been approved by FERC, therefore, FERC can’t even contemplate when or even if there will be a version 5 of the CIP requirements.

Some members of the Standards and Development Team that is working with NERC to create the various CIP rules and changes is made up of a team of industry experts – some more knowledgeable than others – that create the modifications or new requirements. These are then put out for vote by the industry. If they are approved, then the CIP requirements are presented to FERC for their approval. More times than not, FERC will refer the presented rules back to NERC for modification or makes requests for clarity and guidance. The Standards and Development Team is not the defacto word in the CIP requirements, FERC is.

To sum up, don’t believe everything you read or hear. Not that it isn’t true. However, I do recommend that you get independent verification from FERC, NERC or your Regional Entity. If the consultant is using scare tactics to get you to sign a contract, they are only interested in making a quick dollar and do not have your best interests in mind. There are literally hundreds of people on the Standards and Development Team, so if someone touts that they are on the team, that’s nice…so are many others and they aren’t going around using scare tactics to get you to sign on the dotted line. My best advice is to do your due diligence before you jump simply because someone told you the sky is falling.

James Holler is founder of Abidance Consulting.

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