The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) on March 18 announced that they are taking steps to ensure that operators of the bulk electric system can focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during the unprecedented public health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
FERC and NERC said they are using regulatory discretion to advise all registered entities that they will consider the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in complying with reliability standards as follows:
- The effects of the coronavirus will be considered an acceptable basis for non-compliance with obtaining and maintaining personnel certification, as required in reliability standard PER-003-2 (Operating Personnel Credentials), for the period of March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Registered entities should notify their regional entities and reliability coordinators when using system operator personnel that are not NERC-certified;
- The effects of the coronavirus will be considered an acceptable reason for case-by-case non-compliance with reliability standard requirements involving periodic actions that would have been taken between March 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. Registered entities should notify their regional entities of any periodic actions that will be missed during this period; and
- regional entities will postpone on-site audits, certifications and other on-site activities at least until July 31, 2020. Registered entities should communicate any resource impacts associated with remote activities to their regional entities.
FERC and NERC “recognize the uncertainties regarding the response to and recovery from the coronavirus outbreak and will continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether to extend these dates,” they said.
“Our shared goal is to ensure all registered entities balance the concerns for the health and welfare of their workforce while staying focused on the mission of supplying power to consumers across North America,” FERC and NERC said.
The American Public Power Association has set up a webpage that provides information and resources for its members related to COVID-19 and updates on how this affects APPA programs and events.