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NERC explains draft physical security standard, standards-setting process

From the April 24, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published April 24, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) standard drafting team has developed a draft physical security standard that addresses the directives in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s March 7 order on physical security, NERC said in an April 18 response to an April 17 Wall Street Journal article criticizing the draft standard and NERC’s processes. FERC’s order recognized that a "one-size-fits-all," prescriptive approach to protecting the bulk power system from physical security threats would not provide the most benefit, and took into account the fact that NERC does not have the authority to dictate building of facilities and is technology-neutral, NERC said.

The commission’s directive "allows flexibility for organizations with critical assets to work with the characteristics of their particular area, as well as their law enforcement specifications," NERC said.

While the industry is involved in the development and balloting of standards, "that is just one step of the process," NERC said. The highly technical nature of the grid necessitates that owners and operators be involved in developing the standards, NERC noted. Once approved by stakeholders, a standard is submitted to NERC’s independent Board of Trustees for approval and then to FERC. 

"In all cases, FERC can direct NERC to do what is needed within the scope of reliability and security of the bulk power system," NERC said. The commission can order a standard be developed; remand a standard for additional changes; approve a standard with additional directives; or approve a standard as filed. "The consequences of not complying with a FERC order are severe, including civil action or decertification as the electric reliability organization," NERC said.

"Standards are one piece of this complex, dynamic endeavor of providing a comprehensive approach to reliability," NERC said, adding that it has various other tools, including guidelines, training, assessments and alerts. "This multi-pronged approach has resulted in a secure and reliable bulk power system for North America." 


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Vice President, Integrated Media and Communications
Meena Dayak

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro