The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) recently issued an Order approving a request by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to defer the implementation of several Reliability Standards scheduled to take effect later this year. This action, along with others discussed in an earlier post here, are the latest measures approved by FERC that demonstrate the Commission’s intent to exercise discretion in easing reliability compliance burdens in light of the national emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic. In its order, FERC stated: “the deferred implementation dates constitute a reasonable and proportionate response to the substantial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on registered entities without unduly delaying the implementation of these Reliability Standards.”
In its motion, NERC requested that FERC defer the implementation of the following Reliability Standards:
- CIP-005-6 – Cyber Security – Electronic Security Perimeter(s), by three months;
- CIP-010-3 – Cyber Security – Configuration Change Management and Vulnerability Assessments, by three months;
- CIP-013-1 – Cyber Security – Supply Chain Risk Management, by three months;
- PER-006-1 – Specific Training for Personnel, by six months;
- PRC-002-2 – Disturbance Monitoring and Reporting Requirements (phased-in implementation for Requirements R2-R4 and R6-R11), by six months;
- PRC-025-2 – Generator Relay Loadability (phased-in implementation for Requirement R1, Attachment 1, Table 1 Relay Loadability Evaluation Criteria Options 5b, 14b, 15b, 16b), by six months; and
- PRC-027-1 – Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults, by six months.
NERC’s motion asserted that the deferred implementation of these standards would not adversely impact reliability. In addition, NERC argued, the additional time would allow regulated entities to “continue to focus their immediate efforts and resources on maintaining the safety of their workforces and communities and ensuring the reliability of the grid during this public health emergency.”
Importantly, while NERC’s deferral request addressed only those Reliability Standards scheduled to become effective during the remainder of 2020, it is clear that both FERC and NERC recognize that uncertainties created by the pandemic and any subsequent recovery may necessitate modifications to other FERC and NERC compliance standards. It is likely that FERC will continue to exercise discretion and relax regulatory compliance requirements that it considers “reasonable and proportionate” responses to the substantial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on registered entities, provided that doing so does not adversely compromise grid reliability. Regulated entities should continue to monitor FERC orders for additional modifications related to regulatory compliance.