Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
1. Under section 215 of the Federal Power Act (FPA),
2. On March 16, 2007, the Commission issued Order No. 693, approving 83 of the 107 Reliability Standards filed by NERC,
3. Currently effective Reliability Standard PER-002-0 requires each transmission operator and balancing authority to be staffed with adequately trained operating personnel.
4. In Order No. 693, the Commission directed NERC, pursuant to section 215(d)(5) of the FPA, to develop the following modifications to PER-002-0: (1) Identify the expectations of the training for each job function; (2) develop training programs tailored to each job function with consideration of the individual training needs of the personnel; (3) expand the applicability of the training requirements to include: reliability coordinators, local transmission control center operator personnel, generator operators centrally-located at a generation control center with a direct impact on the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System, and operations planning and operations support staff who carry out outage planning and assessments and those who develop system operating limits (SOL), interconnection reliability operating limits (IROL), or operating nomograms for real-time operations; (4) use a systematic approach to training methodology for developing new training programs; and (5) include the use of simulators by reliability coordinators, transmission operators, and balancing authorities that have operational control over a significant portion of load and generation.
5. In Order No. 693, the Commission also directed the ERO to determine whether it is feasible to develop meaningful performance metrics associated with the effectiveness of a training program required by currently effective Reliability Standard PER-002-0 and to consider whether personnel who support Energy Management System (EMS) applications should be included in mandatory training pursuant to the Reliability Standard.
6. In Order No. 693, the Commission also approved Reliability Standard PER-004-1.
7. In a September 30, 2009 filing (NERC Petition),
8. NERC states that the proposed Reliability Standards “are a significant improvement over the existing Reliability Standards” and recommends Commission approval of the standards as a “significant step in strengthening the quality of operator training programs as necessary for the reliability of the [B]ulk-[P]ower [S]ystem.”
9. The stated purpose of Reliability Standard PER-005-1 is to ensure system operators performing real-time, reliability-related tasks on the North American bulk electric system are competent to perform those reliability-related tasks.
• Requirement R1 mandates the use of a systematic approach to training for both new and existing training programs. The requirement further requires applicable entities to create a company-specific, reliability-related task list relevant to Bulk-Power System operation and to design and develop learning objectives and training materials based on the task list performed by its System Operators each calendar year. Finally, the requirement mandates the training be delivered and the training program be evaluated on at least an annual basis to assess its effectiveness.
• Requirement R2 requires the verification of a System Operator's ability to perform the tasks identified in Requirement R1. The requirement also mandates re-verification of a System Operator's ability to perform the tasks within a specified time period when program content is modified.
• Requirement R3 identifies the number of hours of emergency operations training (at least 32 hours) that a System Operator is required to obtain every twelve months. The requirement further identifies those entities required to use simulation technology such as a simulator, virtual technology, or other technology in their emergency operations training programs.
10. Proposed Reliability Standard PER-004-2 modifies PER-004-1 by deleting Requirements R2, R3, and R4, as these three Requirements are incorporated into proposed PER-005-1. Proposed Reliability Standard PER-004-2 simply carries forward, unchanged, the remaining provisions from currently effective PER-004-1, including the associated violation risk factor and violation severity level assignments.
11. On June 17, 2010, the Commission issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to approve the two proposed PER Reliability Standards, PER-004-2 and PER-005-1 (and to retire the two superseded standards, PER-002-0 and PER-004-1).
12. In response to the NOPR, comments were filed by 28 interested parties. These comments assisted us in the evaluation of NERC's proposal. In the discussion below, we address the issues raised by these comments. Appendix A to this Final Rule lists the entities that filed comments on the NOPR.
13. In the NOPR, the Commission proposed to approve the two PER Reliability Standards filed by NERC in this proceeding as just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or preferential, and in the public interest. The Commission stated that proposed Reliability Standards PER-005-1 and PER-004-2 represent an improvement in training requirements.
14. Many commenters support approving the two proposed Reliability Standards PER-004-2 and PER-005-1.
15. EEI states that if the Reliability Standards are approved, compliance with both PER-004-2 and PER-005-1 will support the reliability of the Bulk-Power System by measuring competence against a list of specific task requirements. EEI also comments that by implementing training requirements that test specific competencies, the proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1 provides greater clarity, thus improving its enforceability. No commenter objects to the approval of the two training Reliability Standards.
16. The Commission adopts the NOPR proposal and approves Reliability Standard PER-004-2 and PER-005-1 as just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or preferential, and in the public interest.
17. The Commission is not directing any modifications to the substantive requirements of the two new Reliability Standards, PER-005-1 or PER-004-2. Nevertheless, as discussed in greater detail below, the Commission has several concerns regarding certain training issues. To address these concerns, and as discussed in greater detail below, the Commission is issuing directives that the ERO: (1) Consider the necessity of developing an implementation plan for entities that become subject to PER-005-1, Requirement R3.1 after Requirement R3.1 is in effect, and (2) develop a Reliability Standard, through the ERO's Reliability Standards development process, conducted pursuant to its Standard Processes Manual, establishing training requirements for local transmission control center operator personnel.
18. In the NOPR, the Commission expressed concern about NERC's proposed use of staggered effective dates for the two proposed Reliability Standards, which Reliability Standards modify currently effective standards. The Commission questioned whether staggered effective dates could create a gap in compliance and enforceability. Specifically, NERC proposed to make the various requirements in PER-005-1 mandatory and enforceable in three stages over a three-year period. The Commission also questioned the need for the proposed two- and three-year lead times before certain Requirements in PER-005-1 become mandatory and enforceable.
19. NERC's comments clarify the proposed effective dates for each of the new Requirements in PER-005-1 and PER-004-2 as well as the corresponding retirement dates of the currently effective Requirements in PER-002-0 and PER-004-1. NERC included in its comments a table that specifies the retirement and effective date for each Requirement in each of the affected Reliability Standards, specifically, currently effective PER-002-0 and PER-004-1 and proposed Reliability Standards PER-004-2 and PER-005-1. This table is reproduced in Appendix B of this Final Rule. Further, NERC provides justification for the proposed two- and three-year lead times for the effective date for some of the proposed Requirements in PER-005-1. Specifically, NERC states that the 24-month implementation timeframe of proposed PER-005-1, Requirements R1 and R2 allows flexibility in developing and implementing the training programs that use a systematic approach to training, and is structured and tailored to the functions that each entity performs in operating the Bulk-Power System. Additionally, NERC explains that the 36-month implementation timeframe for Requirement R3.1 in the proposed standard PER-005-1 allows entities with simulation technology sufficient time to integrate the use of this technology as a core component of those programs going forward and allows entities without simulation technology the needed time to secure and integrate simulation technology. Finally, NERC states that it reviewed the staggered effective/retirement dates and did not find any overlaps or gaps.
20. The majority of the commenters generally support NERC's proposed effective and retirement dates.
21. EEI raises a concern regarding the effective date for Reliability Standard PER-005-1, Requirement 3.1. Specifically, EEI states that although Reliability Standard PER-005-1 addresses lead times for compliance based on regulator approval of the standards, it does not address the situation where Requirement 3.1 is not applicable to certain entities at the time of the regulatory effective date of the standard, but later becomes applicable to those entities. Specifically, with respect to PER-005-1, Requirement R3.1, which requires simulator training for entities with established interconnection reliability operating limits (IROLs),
22. The Commission finds that the proposed staggered implementation schedule for PER-005-1 and PER-004-2 and the corresponding retirement schedule for PER-002-0 and PER-004-1 strikes a reasonable balance between the need for timely reform and the needs of the entities that will be subject to PER-005-1 to develop and implement training programs utilizing a systematic approach to training and use of simulators as a training tool. The effective and retirement date table provided by NERC in its comments and incorporated herein as Appendix B demonstrates that there are no apparent overlaps or gaps between the retirement of PER-002-0 and PER-004-1 and the effectiveness of the requirements in the new Reliability Standards, PER-005-1 and PER-004-2.
23. The Commission finds that the commenters that advocate for a uniform effective date of 36-months have not adequately justified such a lengthy lead time for a Reliability Standard that will not impose entirely new requirements. Rather, PER-005-1 requires applicable entities to build upon and improve the existing training programs that are in place under currently effective PER-002-0. Accordingly, as approved, PER-004-2 in its entirety and PER-005-1, Requirement R3 shall become effective on the first day of the first calendar quarter after regulatory approval.
24. With respect to EEI's comment regarding the effective date for entities that may become, in the future, subject to the simulator training requirement in PER-005-1, R3.1, the Commission believes that this issue should be considered by the ERO. We note that, with respect to the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards, NERC has developed a separate implementation plan that essentially gives responsible entities some lead time before newly acquired assets must be in compliance with the effective CIP Reliability Standards.
25. A systematic approach to training is a widely-accepted methodology that ensures training is efficiently and effectively conducted and is directly related to the needs of the position in question.
26. In the NOPR, the Commission agreed with NERC that proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1, Requirement R1 met the Commission's directive to “develop a modification to PER-002-2 (or a new Reliability Standard) that uses the systematic approach to training methodology.”
27. Currently effective Reliability Standard PER-004-1, Requirements R3 and R4 provide that reliability coordinator operating personnel “shall have a comprehensive understanding of the Reliability Coordinator Area and interactions with neighboring Reliability Coordinator areas” and “shall have an extensive understanding of the Balancing Authorities, Transmission Operators, and Generation Operators within the Reliability Coordinator Area, including the operating staff, operating practices and procedures * * * .”
28. Most commenters agree that comprehensive understanding of the reliability coordinator area is fully addressed by PER-005-1, Requirements R1 and R2 through the use of a systematic approach to training.
29. NERC states that PER-005-1 implements a defense-in-depth approach to ensure that the reliability coordinator's system operators have a comprehensive understanding of their reliability coordinator area. NERC believes this approach ensures that system operators have the tools to effectively monitor and direct actions within the reliability coordinator area in support of the Bulk-Power System. NERC provides examples of how proposed PER-005-1 ensures that the reliability coordinator's system operators will have detailed knowledge of their reliability coordinator area.
30. Based on NERC's explanation, the Commission agrees that the existing requirements contained in PER-004-1, which require reliability coordinators to have a comprehensive understanding of the reliability coordinator area and interactions with neighboring reliability coordinator areas and an extensive understanding of the balancing authorities, transmission operators, and generation operators within the reliability coordinator area, are adequately captured and enforceable under proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1.
31. Currently effective Reliability Standard PER-002-0, Requirement R3.2 explicitly mandates that “the training program must include a plan for the initial and
32. NERC comments that continual training is an enforceable requirement under PER-005-1, Requirement R1 as a fundamental aspect of a systematic approach to training. Most commenters agree with NERC that continual training is an inherent aspect of the systematic approach to training.
33. KCP&L believes continuing training is not necessary for routine tasks, only non-routine. MidAmerican and NV Energy both argue that explicit language addressing continual training is necessary to be an enforceable requirement.
34. Based on NERC's and the majority of the commenters' affirmation that continual training is a fundamental part of a systematic approach to training and an enforceable requirement under PER-005-1, we find that any systematic approach to training, including the
35. In the NOPR, the Commission noted that currently effective Reliability Standard PER-002-0, Requirement R3.4 requires a training program in which “[t]raining staff must be identified, and the staff must be competent in both knowledge of system operations and instructional capabilities.” The Commission further noted that this requirement is not explicitly provided in PER-005-1. As such, the NOPR sought clarification as to (i) how and whether a systematic approach to training requires training staff to be identified, and (ii) if not, the mechanism by which training staff will be identified and its competency ensured. The Commission also invited comment on whether this clarification should be made explicit so that entities clearly understand their compliance obligations.
36. NERC agrees with the Commission that PER-002-0, Requirement R3.4, which requires a training program in which training staff must be identified and competent in system operations and instructional capabilities, is an important requirement and proposes to reassess whether this requirement should be made more explicit in a later version of PER-005-1 so that entities can understand their compliance obligations.
37. The majority of commenters agree that training staff identification and competency are inherent in a systematic approach to training, and that, as such, no modification of proposed PER-005-1 is necessary.
38. Based on the comments received, the Commission concludes that the current requirement for each training program (that training staff must be identified and that such staff must be competent in both knowledge of system operations and instructional capabilities) is inherent in any systematic approach to training that a registered entity would use to meet this requirement, and thus is an enforceable component of Requirement R1 under the proposed standard. However, given the number of commenters that argue that it is necessary for the current training program requirement to be explicitly stated in the proposed training standard, we agree that NERC should follow through on its proposal in its comments to reassess whether this requirement should be made more explicit in a later version of PER-005-1.
39. Proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1, Requirement R1.2 mandates applicable entities to “design and develop learning objectives and training materials based on the task list created in R1.1.”
40. NERC agrees with the Commission that learning objectives and training materials are to be developed for each job function. NERC believes that using a systematic approach to training allows each entity to tailor its training program to best meet the training needs of the function performed by System Operators.
41. A number of commenters
42. SPP and Westar did not take a position on the issue; rather, they request that the Commission clarify what is meant by “consideration of the
43. One commenter, Wisconsin Electric, disagrees with the Commission's “understanding” on this issue. Wisconsin Electric expresses several concerns with the following statement in the NOPR:
Based on our review of the Systematic Approach to Training methodology used by the Department of Energy, we understand that a Systematic Approach to Training would assess factors such as educational, technical, experience, and medical requirements that candidates must possess before entering a given training program. With the above understanding, we believe that the Systematic Approach to Training methodology, as proposed in Reliability Standard PER-005-1, satisfies the Commission directive to develop a modification that identifies the expectations of the training for each job function and develops training programs tailored to each job function with consideration of the individual training needs of the personnel.
44. Based on NERC's and other commenters' affirmation of the Commission's understanding as stated in the NOPR, the Commission confirms that Requirement R1.2 of proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1 requires that the learning objectives and training materials be developed with consideration of the individual needs of each operator. In response to Wisconsin Electric, BG&E and the ISO/RTO Council, the Commission clarifies that it is not mandating the use of the specific Systematic Approach to Training methodology used by the Department of Energy. However, we believe that the Department of Energy's Systematic Approach to Training methodology as set forth in the DOE Handbook is a particularly good and relevant model to use.
45. DOE's Handbook is relevant for two reasons. First, it was designed to assist facilities, specifically nuclear facilities, that are within the same general industry as electric power facilities.
46. Finally, SPP and Westar request that the Commission clarify what is meant by “consideration of the individual needs of each operator.” The Commission provides the following clarification. A training plan is designed to prepare
47. In Order No. 693, the Commission directed NERC to develop a requirement mandating simulator training for reliability coordinators, transmission operators and balancing authorities that have operational control over a significant portion of load and generation. Recognizing that cost of simulator training is an issue, the Commission allowed for the use of simulators to be dependent on an entity's role and size.
48. In the NOPR, the Commission found that proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1, Requirement R3.1 meets this Order No. 693 directive regarding training using simulators. However, the Commission sought comment on the terminology in Requirement R3.1 which provides that the emergency operations training should use “simulation technology such as a simulator, virtual technology, or other technology that
49. NERC and all others who commented on the simulator training issue agree that PER-005-1, Requirement R3.1, does not require the use of custom simulators.
50. All commenters, except for BPA, agree that the simulator training requirement
51. For example, NRECA states that it is an understanding of the situational conditions and the response to them that is the key to successful operator training, and those do not require the use of simulators specific to an operator's own system. NRECA further described that simulation of operational scenarios such as: frequency response of generators, VAR flow from high voltage to low voltage, and restoration load pick-up and the potential for under-frequency tripping, are concepts common to all systems, noting that a simulator can address and train on these issues irrespective of individual system characteristics. Minnesota Power and Montana Dakota explain that, in general, elements of the bulk electric system exhibit behaviors based upon the characteristics of each element, not upon their specific location in a particular system. They posit that it is the understanding of the situational conditions and the response to them that is the key to successful operator training and that understanding does not require the use of simulators specific to an operator's own system. EEI notes that the issue of custom versus generic simulators was discussed extensively by the PER-005-1 drafting team and argues that custom simulators are not necessary to properly train personnel. EEI urges the Commission to approve PER-005-1, R3.1 without change and to allow NERC to monitor the effectiveness of the simulator training requirement for possible gaps.
52. Other commenters argue against mandating custom simulators because the cost of custom simulators would far exceed the benefit.
53. BPA, the sole commenter that endorses modifying PER-005-1 to mandate the use of custom simulators, notes that it uses custom simulators. BPA acknowledges that the cost of implementing and maintaining a high fidelity simulator is significant, but suggests an alternative approach of developing a centralized, high fidelity simulator that realistically replicates the entire interconnection that could be remotely accessed by entities for training exercises.
54. NERC notes in its comments that custom simulators could be important in ensuring the reliability of the BES. NERC further states that while a high fidelity simulator may not be necessary to ensure bulk electric system reliability, NERC agrees that simulators used for training that provide a useful representation of the system that the operators work with may warrant further consideration in a subsequent version of the proposed standard.
55. We affirm NERC's and the industry's understanding that PER-005-1, Requirement R3.1 does not require the use of simulators specific to an operator's own system. While the Commission continues to feel there is value in using custom simulators, we acknowledge that NERC and industry have determined that it is not necessary at this time. However, NERC and other commenters state that there may be potential reliability benefits of some form of custom simulators. NERC has also proposed to consider custom simulators in a subsequent modification of PER-005-1. We appreciate NERC's commitment to continually look at how reliability can be improved and encourage NERC and industry to evaluate the gained reliability in requiring the use of custom simulators.
56. In Order No. 693, the Commission directed NERC to expand the applicability of currently effective Reliability Standard PER-002-0 to include local transmission control center operator personnel. Order No. 693 provided that the training should be tailored to the functions that local transmission control center operators perform that impact the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System for both normal and emergency
57. In the NOPR, the Commission rejected NERC's explanation regarding the failure to include local transmission control center operating personnel in the proposed training standard. The Commission stated in the NOPR that, contrary to NERC's suggestion, under proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1, a transmission operator could not require a local transmission control center operator to receive training if that operator is employed by an entity other than a reliability coordinator, balancing authority, or transmission operator. The Commission noted that with respect to proposed Reliability Standard PER-005-1, the standard requires transmission operators, reliability coordinators, and balancing authorities to establish a training program for the
58. NERC, and all other commenters that address this issue, object to the Commission's proposal to direct NERC to expand the applicability of PER-005-1 to explicitly include local transmission control center personnel. Some commenters agree with NERC's position, stated in its Petition, that the local transmission control center operators will receive the necessary training without explicitly including them as a class subject to PER-005-1.
59. The majority of commenters