NERC Unveils Improved Standards Development Process

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vegetationmgmtThe NERC project to develop Results-Based Reliability Standards addresses stakeholder’s recommendations that the industry should focus existing standards on areas that will lead to the greatest improvement in bulk power system reliability. You can read about it here.

The entities feel they are spending too much time documenting compliance and not enough time verifying compliance to pertinent requirements that have a more direct impact on system reliability, says VP of Enterprise Solutions at AssurX, Sal Lucido. Last January the committee selected standard FAC-003-2 (Transmission Vegetation Management Program) as the initial proof-of-concept for the project.

You can view the status of this project at this link:

The Transmission Vegetation Management Team is now responding to comments received on the draft standard. “This project should greatly improve the standards development process and result in clearly written, verifiable standards and requirements,” Sal notes. The approach starts with making sure a standard has a clear statement of purpose and that each requirement is clear and measurable. The team is also looking to eliminate requirements that don’t have an impact on the reliability of the bulk power system.

Initially, these standards were voluntary. But as NERC has shifted them to being mandatory, they’ve come under closer scrutiny from industry, in part because of the monetary enforcement associated with violations. The project also states that the standards development team “should strive to achieve a portfolio of performance, risk, and competency-based mandatory reliability requirements that support an effective
defense-in-depth strategy.”

Sal adds that the team is instructed to ensure that each requirement “should identify a clear and measurable outcome.” This means that the requirement should have at least one of the following:

  • A stated level of reliability performance
  • A reduction in a specific reliability risk or,
  • A necessary competency

This new approach to standards development represents almost a year’s worth of work in a partnership between industry and NERC. It will be interesting to watch the results of the first project, which should be followed by improvements to the other critical standards.

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