NERC news briefs

A Monthly Publication of the North American Electric Reliability Council

May 2002

Senate includes reliability legislation in national energy bill

On April 25, the United States Senate adopted comprehensive energy legislation that will help ensure the continued reliability and security of the North American bulk electric system. The energy bill approved by the Senate authorizes the creation of an industry-based, North America-wide electric reliability organization, or ERO, to develop and enforce the standards needed to protect the reliability of the electric grid.

NERC and a broad coalition of state government, industry and consumer groups have voiced strong support for these reliability provisions. The Bush Administration’s National Energy Plan endorses a North American ERO and members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also have offered testimony supporting this approach. The bill will now go to conference to resolve differences with the energy bill that passed the House of Representatives last summer.

The reliability provisions provide for FERC oversight in the United States, ensure the full and equal participation of Canada and Mexico, and protect the important roles of the states and regions in supporting the reliability of the interconnected North American electric grid. The bill also ensures that the new ERO will operate efficiently and fairly. Copies of the reliability portion of this bill and related NERC testimony can be found on NERC’s web site at: – Ellen Vancko

E-Tag Version 1.7 goes live

The electric industry successfully implemented E-Tag Version 1.7 on April 10, 2002. Overall, the consensus of the Transmission Information Systems Working Group and the OASIS Standards Collaborative (TISWG/OSC) is the cutover went smoother than anticipated 3/4 even better than the rollout of the original electronic tagging system in September 1999. Related changes to the Interchange Distribution Calculator (IDC) also went well. The most pivotal element of the successful cut-over was the unflagging dedication of the users, programmers and committee members who endured seemingly endless testing to alleviate interoperability problems. These “testing heroes” are to be commended for their diligence and efforts.

The cutover began on April 8 with a two-day transition period for pre-scheduling. During that time, both the old and new E-Tag systems were run in parallel, allowing pre-schedules to be entered on the new system. The transition period proved to be invaluable in shaking down the new systems and identifying and rectifying registration man-machine interface problems.

Registry updates were made every two to three hours for the first two weeks of operation to accommodate the multiple registration changes necessary for the transition. More than 800 entities implemented the new version of E-Tag, which included the transition to using an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) Data Model for data transport. The use of XML allowed the advancement of a number of tagging enhancements that had long been requested by marketplace.

Of course, the cutover was not without some problems, both expected and unexpected. The biggest problem encountered was with the E-Tag 1.7 system response speed. Most of those problems were related to underpowered computers or communications bandwidth that could not keep up with the demands of the new software and messaging systems. A few companies had problems integrating their back-office systems with the new tagging software, which required that manual processes had to be used until the integration was completed. Some struggled with personnel training issues, while unfamiliarity with the new functionality hampered others. Finally, within a week of the cutover, an early heat wave drove temperatures in the south and east into the 90s, amplifying the severity of the other problems that were being worked through.

Fortunately, the systems are improving daily as experience is gained, computer power and communications bandwidth issues are resolved and integration of backend systems is completed. The TISWG/OSC are also looking at ways to improve the system to ensure that E-Tag 1.7 will be ready for the workload for the upcoming summer season. Additional information on E-Tag is available at: ( Bob Cummings

The new features in E-Tag 1.7 are:
* PSE Corrections 3/4 the ability of a Purchasing/Selling Entity (PSE) to make changes to a previously submitted tag, prior to the tag being implemented or dead, without the need to complete a new tag.
* PSE Adjustments 3/4 the ability of a PSE to request changes to the energy and/or transmission profile of a previously approved tag.
* PSE Extensions 3/4 the ability of a PSE to request a Tags energy profile is extended past its originally approved ending.
* Change Acknowledgement 3/4 the ability of operational entities to confirm intent to implement a tag or change to a tag.
* Loss Accounting 3/4 the ability to document changes in individual interchange schedules to properly capture transmission losses in the event of energy profile changes.
* Transmission Stacking 3/4 the ability of a PSE to specify flexible uses of transmission service. Tagging currently accommodates vertical stacking of transmission, which is using multiple OASIS reservations associated with the MW level of the tag. Version 1.7 includes the ability to use horizontal stacking, which is the use of multiple OASIS reservations across time.
* Tag Recovery 3/4 the ability of a valid E-Tag participant to request tag information which was lost, not received or otherwise not in their possession. This is designed for emergency use only.
* Market Segments 3/4 represent transfer of title from one entity to another for those parties that are not the transmission owner, GPE, LSE or Scheduling Entity.
* Approval Rights 3/4 the newly granted authority for these entities to approve or deny tags.

Summer Reliability Assessment nearing release

NERC will release its 2002 Summer Assessment on Wednesday, May 15, at 8:30 a.m., EDT; the report will be posted on the NERC website at: NERC will also hold a conference call to discuss the assessment on May 15 at 11 a.m., EDT. The call will include a brief overview of the report by Tim Gallagher, Manager-Technical Services, after which listeners will be given the opportunity to ask questions. The call is expected to last about one hour. The call-in number is: 816-650-0741; the chairperson is Ellen Vancko.

future role of the standing committees

The executive committees of the Planning, Operating and Market Interface Committees met on April 8 to discuss the role of the standing committees in the new organization standards development process. With NERC moving from a committee-led to an industry-led standards development and approval process, the standing committees will no longer be voting on new organization standards. However, it is expected that they will play an important part in the standards development process by providing discussion forums for proposed revisions to and reviewing the effectiveness of those standards that are now in place. Also, committees and their subgroups can request new or modified standards by submitting standards authorization requests (SARs). Of course, committee members can serve on both SAR and standards drafting teams as well as join the registered ballot body, which will vote on the new standards. – Don Benjamin

Organization certification paper posted for comment; workshops announced

Last June, the NERC Board of Trustees approved the Control Area Criteria Task Force’s (CACTF) proposed functional model. The task force recommended a number of actions that were needed to implement this model, including the certification of organizations performing certain of the model’s functions (see sidebar). In November, the Organization Certification Task Force (OCTF) began to develop criteria to certify these organizations.

On April 23, the OCTF posted for comment a white paper that outlines the draft criteria developed for certifying the reliability authority, balancing authority, interchange authority and transmission service provider functions. The criteria for certifying these functions will eventually be entered into the organization standards development process and will be treated as an organization standard. Comments are due by June 7, 2002.

In conjunction with the posted paper, the task force is holding two workshops to obtain additional industry input on the proposed certification criteria. The first workshop will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 20(21; the second will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on May 22(23. The workshops will include breakout sessions along with plenary discussions on the criteria and procedures for certifying the functions. Registration materials for the workshops and the white paper can be found at: ( Pat Everly

GADS goes to China

NERC’s Generating Availability Data System (GADS) staff met with the China Electricity Council (CEC) in Shanghai, China in April. NERC was invited to China to explain the Operator Certification Program and the System Disturbance Reporting System. There were also discussions about the GADS program and its uses. About 150 representatives from the CEC, State Power Corporation, Electric Reliability Management Center, and other representatives were in attendance.

Following these meetings, the World Energy Council’s (WEC) Performance of Generation Plant committee sponsored a two-day meeting for the same group of Chinese representatives. The workshop addressed uses of data collected from different countries worldwide, including the NERC-GADS database, and also addressed reliability techniques. – Mike Curley

NERC comments on proposed Form 417 revisions

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is in the process of revising the “Emergency Incident and Disturbance Report,” commonly known as EIA Form 417. NERC reviewed the proposed revisions and submitted comments on April 22, 2002.

Foremost among NERC’s concerns with the proposed changes to the form is the requirement that system outage information be submitted to EIA within 60 minutes of the trigger of the system event. NERC pointed out that most information related to the disturbance will not be known in this timeframe, and that the period immediately following a disturbance must be dedicated to system restoration. The concern is that completing a disturbance report during this critical time will take system operator resources away from restoration efforts. NERC was also concerned that EIA plans to implement the new Form 417 during the summer months, which is an extremely busy time for system operators. NERC’s comments can be viewed at: – Tim Gallagher

TRWG to develop training resources

The Training Resource Working Group (TRWG) was created to advise and assist NERC in developing and maintaining training aids, documents and tutorials. This training service will help system operators stay up to date on NERC reliability standards and related tools. TRWG members have a wide range of backgrounds, and most of the ten Regional Reliability Councils are represented on the group.

Key issues in developing better training references include: 1) writing in “plain English;” 2) tailoring references to meet the needs of different audiences and experience levels; and 3) distributing these references well in advance of implementing new or revised reliability standards to allow adequate training time. The working group has several projects under way to develop these training resources:

* Identify core skills and basic knowledge requirements for system operators based on the functional model.
* Develop a comprehensive list of training references that should be available to system operators.
* Develop a list of training providers and the services they currently offer.
* Draft a training document on control performance standards.

NERC is seeking volunteers from the Florida area (FRCC) and eastern and western Canada to serve on this working group. For more information on the TRWG, go to: – John Theotonio

GADS and EUCG work to improve benchmarking

GADS Services has been working with the Electric Utility Cost Group (EUCG) to create a unique version of pc-GAR. The EUCG version combines both cost and performance data together for more specific benchmarking of individual generating units. Mike Curley presented the latest version of the software to the Fossil Committee. The software is now under review by EUCG members who contributed both performance and cost data. – Mike Curley

ESC submits more standard market design questions to FERC

The Electronic Scheduling Collaborative (ESC) is continuing to develop standardized business practices for OASIS Phase II designed to facilitate the seamless reservation, scheduling and flow of energy in electricity markets. Last October, the ESC provided the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with an update of its work and requested that FERC respond to key policy questions on specific business practices and RTO design issues.

The FERC staff Working Paper on Standardized Transmission Service and Wholesale Electric Market Design provided preliminary answers to the ESC’s questions. More detailed answers are expected to be included in FERC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on a standardized wholesale market design and reformed Open Access Transmission Tariff. The ESC noted that the staff document seems to blend the concepts of financial rights and physical rights models and filed additional questions with FERC seeking clarification on whether these models will be allowed to coexist. The above papers are posted at:

The ESC continues to work with industry groups to provide a response to FERC for OASIS Phase II, which includes the development of electronic scheduling. The ESC strongly encourages the industry to participate in this important effort. – Gordon Scott

From the Desk of the Standards Process Manager

Maureen Long, the Standards Process Manager, answers your questions about the Organization Standards Transition Project. This will be a regular feature of this newsletter for as long as it is needed. If you have questions about the standards transition process, please send them to Maureen at

What is the status of the first SAR, “Balancing Resources and Demand?”

We received 36 sets of comments on this SAR. Comments were submitted by the Regions, a NERC subcommittee, a NERC working group, Independent System Operators, an electric cooperative, a municipal utility and many others. To view these comments, go to:

The Standards Authorization Committee (SAC) has appointed an SAR Drafting Team to address these comments, and to revise the SAR so it reflects the scope and content reflected by the industry’s comments; Carl Monroe, Southwest Power Pool, was appointed to lead the drafting team. The first meeting will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 15, 2002. To review the meeting notice and agenda go to:

What is the status of the Organization Standards Process Manual?

The Board of Trustees directed that the October 2001 version of the Organization Standards Process Manual be updated to incorporate the weighted segment voting model and associated conforming changes. The manual has been updated and is posted on the Standards Transition Project web site at The Board is expected to approve the updated manual at its next meeting on June 14, 2002.

When will registration for the new registered ballot body take place and when will ballot pools be formed for the SARs that have already been posted?

We will begin registering members of the ballot body in early May. However, the ballot body will not be able to vote until the Board approves the revised Organization Standards Process Manual in June. Shortly after the Board meeting (and assuming the revised manual is approved), we will begin soliciting members of the registered ballot body to form ballot pools for the SARs under development.

How does the functional model relate to the standards transition process?

In June 2001, the Board approved the Control Area Criteria Task Force’s Reliability Model Report. (Note: the reliability model has been renamed the functional model.) This model defines the functions necessary to operate bulk electric systems reliably. The functional model moves away from the traditional view that reliability is provided by integrated utilities operating control areas and recognizes that reliability functions may be performed by a variety of organizations and entities participating in electricity markets. NERC’s Planning Committee is presently expanding upon the function definitions to address the system planning function. To download the functional model, go to:

In October 2001, the Board approved the first version of the Organization Standards Process Manual, which provides direction on the development of NERC standards using a fair, open, balanced and inclusive process. Together, the functional model and the Organization Standards Process Manual guide the establishment of a new certification process (for functions, rather than control areas), a new standards development process, and the development of organization standards. To download the currently approved version of the manual, go to:

Which functions in the functional model will be certified?

The Organization Certification Task Force (OCTF) has drafted certification requirements for the following functions: reliability authority, balancing authority, interchange authority and transmission service provider. The draft certification requirements are contained in a white paper that is posted for public comment. The OCTF is also holding two workshops to discuss the draft certification requirements, certification procedure and personnel certification. For more information go to:

How does personnel certification relate to functional certification?

The current system operator certification program is addressed in NERC Operating Policy 8. When functional certification is in place, we expect that the requirement to have certified system operators will be addressed through functional certification. For example, in the draft criteria for the reliability authority, there is a requirement that a reliability authority “must have NERC-certified operators.” We expect that there will be a delay of about two years before this requirement can be fully implemented. It will take a couple of years to develop and implement new certification requirements and organization standards. Then a job analysis will need to be conducted to develop and validate an association between system operator job duties, certified functions, organization standards and test items.

In the interim, the Personnel Subcommittee has updated the existing System Operator Certification exam so it aligns more closely with the division of system operator functions in existence today. The Personnel Subcommittee hopes to replace this exam, which applies to all types of system operators, with a set of specialized exams this fall. Each system operator who needs to be certified would be required to pass the specialized exam most applicable to his or her assigned job tasks. This new process is described in Policy 8C, which is posted for comment.

What are NERC’s plans for retiring or replacing existing operating policies and planning standards?

NERC’s operating policies and planning standards will be retired in whole or in part as they are displaced by new organization standards. Standards authorization requests (SARs) for eleven organization standards have been proposed and approved by the Standards Authorization Committee. These SARs have been posted for comment and can be viewed at:

While there is not a direct, one-for-one relationship between existing operating policies and planning standards and new organization standards, there is a high-level map outlining the migration of the operating policies and planning standards to proposed organization standards and certification requirements. The table below provides an overview of this expected transition.

There is a requirement that each new organization standard have an associated implementation plan. Each of these implementation plans will identify what sections of operating policies and planning standards will be retired as a result of the approval and adoption of the new organization standard. In some cases, we expect a new organization standard will displace an entire operating policy or planning standard; in other cases, only sections of a policy or standard will be retired.

High-Level Map for Transitioning Existing Operating Policies and Planning Standards to Proposed Organization Standards

Proposed Organization Standards & Certification Requirements
Existing Operating Policies
Existing Planning Standards
Assess Transmission Future Needs and Develop Transmission Plans
I.A, “Transmission Systems”
I.B, “Reliability Assessment”
I.D, “Voltage Support and Reactive Power”
I.E, “Transfer Capability”
II.A, “System Data”
II.D, “Actual and Forecast Demands”

Determine Facility Ratings, Operating Limits and Transfer Capabilities
6A, “Operations Planning – Normal Operations”
I.E, “Transfer Capability”
II.B, “Generation Equipment”
II.C, “Facility Ratings”
II.E, “Demand Characteristics (Dynamic)”

Design, Install and Coordinate Control and Protection Systems
4D, “System Coordination – System Protection Coordination”
III.A, “Transmission Protection Systems”
III.B, “Transmission Control Devices”
III.C, “Generation Control and Protection”
III.D, “Underfrequency Load Shedding”
III.E, “Undervoltage Load Shedding”
III.F, “Special Protection Systems
IV.B, “Automatic Restoration of Load”

Define (Physical) Connection Requirements
I.C, “Facility Connection Requirements”

Balance Resources and Demand
1, “Generation Control and Performance”

Monitor and Assess Short-term Transmission Reliability 3/4 Operate Within Limits
2, “Transmission”
9, “Security Coordinator Procedures”

Coordinate Interchange
3, “Interchange”

Coordinate Operations
4, “System Coordination” plus other Policies

Prepare for and Respond to Abnormal or Emergency Conditions
5, “Emergency Operations”
6, “Operations Planning”

Prepare for and Respond to Blackout or Island Conditions
5E, Emergency Operations, “Restoration”
6D, “Operations Planning – System Restoration”
IV.A, “System Blackstart Capability”

Monitor and Analyze Disturbances, Events and Conditions
5F, “Emergency Operations – Disturbance Reporting”
I.F, “Disturbance Monitoring”

This monthly newsletter, reprinted with permission from NERC, is intended to provide recipients with the latest news concerning NERC activities. For more information, e-mail questions to


  • The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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