Energy Alert: FERC Votes to Issue Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Adopt Revised Bulk Electric System Definition and Exception Process.


[author: Craig W. Silverstein]

Earlier today, FERC voted to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to approve NERC's revised definition of the Bulk Electric System (BES) and procedural mechanisms within the NERC Rules of Procedure to create an exception process for adding or removing certain elements from the definition on a case-by-case basis. NERC submitted its filings to FERC on January 25, 2012. This alert was issued prior to the release of the actual order and is based on the presentation of the FERC staff, the comments of commissioners and the accompanying press releases. The order should issue within the next day.

FERC staff noted that NERC's filings responded to the directives issued in Order No. 743/743-A by making clear that the BES "core" definition includes all transmission elements and real power and reactive power resources operated or connected at 100 kilovolts or higher and eliminated regional discretion that existed under the existing definition. The NOPR will include NERC's specific bright-line inclusions and exclusions, which clarify certain types of common facilities and facility configurations to determine whether they meet the BES definition.

The NOPR will also seek comment on the NERC proposal and ask questions about the definition, inclusions and exclusions to develop "a common understanding that will ensure a consistent application of the definition in indentifying bulk electric system facilities." It should be noted that further modifications to the BES definition are already under development by NERC in a "Phase 2" process and include more difficult issues such as cranking paths, contiguity of the BES and the use of threshold values. Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed and submitted to the NERC Board of Trustees by the end of 2013.

The NOPR will also seek comment on a pivotal jurisdiction issue: whether NERC has successfully excluded local distribution facilities from the BES, which is a fundamental boundary established by Section 215 of the Federal Power Act.

Comments on the NOPR should be due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register.

When released, you'll find a copy of the FERC BES NOPR here.

Go here for more detail on the NERC Phase 2 BES Process.


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