NERC Debuts Enhanced Alert Mechanism, Reviews Challenging 2009

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NERCNERC just rolled out its NERC Alert System (NAS), which gives NERC/ES-ISAC the ability to alert and notify NAS-registered entities of the bulk power system (BPS) of vulnerabilities, threats, and/or abnormal events/conditions that could impact the BPS. It is also designed to enable rapid Alert creation and dissemination of alerts and provides for quick acknowledgment and response from Alert recipients via a secure Web browser portal.

“It’s pretty good,” says Paul J. Fricke, CQMgr, CQA Quality Manager/Project Manager at AssurX, Inc. “It sets up a direct and rapid communication to registered entities on when to send alerts and to have the mechanism to do it effectively.”

When registered entities receive an alert, they’ll then log into a secure site to receive the full update details.

There are three levels of alerts, in rising levels of seriousness:

  • Level 1 – Advisory – information only
  • Level 2 – Recommendations to Industry – usually requires that a questionnaire be completed and submitted back to NERC
  • Level 3 – Essential Action – these require information back from the registered entity – highest level of alert, seriousness

NERC also set up a fairly straightforward means of labeling how carefully to protect information contained in an alert:

  • Green – Public
  • Yellow – Private
  • Red – Sensitive
  • Black – Confidential

NERC also just released its report for 2009 which addresses a year of transition (changes at the top) and a broader kind of transition: It’s “one of focus as we enter our third full year as the entity responsible for developing and enforcing compliance with mandatory reliability standards,” says Gerry Cauley, NERC’s new President and CEO.

Cauley’s ambitious vision is “to broaden our focus from a compliance organization to a learning organization, one that fosters learning and facilitates growth, both within our organization and across the industry.”

Given all that NERC is trying to do – some well, some maybe not so well – we’ll keep you posted on how they deliver on some tough promises in 2010.

See also:

NERC Unveils Improved Standards Development Process

The Top 10 FERC Enforceable Standards in 2009

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