U.S. and Canada Coordinate on Grid Security; FERC Releases Reliability Primer

Two noteworthy documents addressing grid security and reliability came out earlier this month.  The United States and Canada announced the Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy (Joint Strategy), which outlines the two countries’ goals and plans to enhance the security and resilience of the North American electric grid.  The United States and Canada have highly integrated grids with dozens of points of interconnection, and each country is dependent on the other’s infrastructure.

The Joint Strategy focuses on three primary goals and outlines the two countries’ plans to pursue these goals.  The first goal is protecting the electric grid and enhancing preparedness.  The Joint Strategy emphasizes coordination and information sharing among the private sector and the various levels of government responsible for parts of the grid.  Second is managing contingencies and enhancing response and recovery efforts, for which the Joint Strategy sets out a plan for both physical and cyber mutual assistance between Canada and the United States.  Finally, the Joint Strategy outlines the two countries’ goal of building a more secure and resilient future electric grid, by adapting to growing levels of intermittent renewable resources, energy storage, and distributed energy resources, as well as by responding to cybersecurity threats.

FERC has released a Reliability Primer.  This primer provides an overview of FERC’s role in ensuring electric reliability.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 added a new section to the Federal Power Act on electric reliability and tasked FERC with approving reliability standards and enforcing compliance.  The reliability provisions apply to many entities, including those excluded from most of FERC’s economic regulations, such as federal power agencies, municipal utilities, and rural electric cooperatives.

FERC sees reliability as a broad term encompassing everything from tree trimming to cybersecurity.  The Reliability Primer describes of the fourteen categories in which Reliability Standards are grouped, including Critical Infrastructure Protection; Emergency Preparedness and Operations; Facilities Design, Connections, and Maintenance; and Transmission Planning.  The primer also describes the monitoring programs of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and various regional entities.

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