NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard BAL-005-0.1b | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard BAL-005-0.1b

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard BAL-005-0.1b

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This page contains the NOP (Notice of Penalty) and ACP (Administrative Citation of Penalty) summaries. Click here to read the FFT (Find, Fix and Track) summaries.

City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities, Light Division (TPWR), Docket No. NP13-39-000 (May 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: 15

Violation Risk Factor: Lower

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: TPWR self-reported a violation of BAL-005-0.1b R15 in its capacity of Balancing Authority on October 3, 2011 as TPWR did not maintain reliable backup power supplies and conduct periodic test of these supplies. The tests are essential for the continuous operation of its Automatic Generation Control (AGC) and data recording equipment during normal power supply losses. TPWR experienced such a loss to its energy control center on July 1, 2011 which isolated TPWR’s generator. The emergency control center had to use uninterruptible power supply to meet essential load, which was depleted in fourteen minutes. This caused a complete power outage to essential load.

Finding: WECC found that this violation posed a moderate, but not a serious or substantial, risk to the bulk power system reliability. The reliable operation of the BPS relies on AGC and data recording equipment, which lacked continuous power supply during TPWR’s outage. Moderating the risk, however, were telecommunications facilities located at TPWR’s backup control center that maintained the ability to adequately communicate system events and conditions. During the outage, TPWR kept system control and local awareness. In determining an appropriate penalty, WECC credited PWR’s internal compliance program (ICP), which was well documented, widely disseminated to operations staff, reviewed regularly, supported by adequate resources, and overseen by its own staff with independent board and CEO access. The program details formal, periodic self-auditing and potential discipline for staff involved in Reliability Standards violations. The ICP is operated independently from staff responsible for compliance with the Reliability Standards.

Total Penalty: $13,200 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: Issued June 28, 2013 (no further review)

East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Docket No. NP12-24-000 (April 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: SERC

Issue: East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), as a Balancing Authority, self-reported that during a forced outage, an employee willfully overrode the Net Scheduled Interchange (NSI) input and substituted altered values in order to make the Area Control Error (ACE) recovery appear to have happened in 12 minutes rather than 23 minutes. By altering the NSI numbers, the employee did not properly determine the ACE by comparing total Net Actual Interchange to total NSI plus Frequency Bias obligation, resulting in an incorrect ACE negative value. During the recovery, the actual ACE would not have violated NERC standards.

Finding: SERC determined that the violation posed a minimal risk to BPS reliability because EKPC promptly covered the 470 MW loss during the disturbance recovery and recovered ACE within approximately 23 minutes. Furthermore, loss of 470 MW was not a Reportable Disturbance, and the employee acted to alter the recorded recovery time, not to impede operations. SERC’s penalty was based on the fact that this was EKPC’s first violation of the same or closely-related Reliability Standard, that there was a formal compliance program in place at the time of the violation, and that the employee was terminated shortly after EKPC discovered the violation. NERC approved the penalty for these reasons and because EKPC self-reported the violation and cooperated during the investigation.

Penalty: $12,000

FERC Order: Issued May 30, 2012 (no further review)

Gainesville Regional Utilities, FERC Docket No. NP11-105-000 (February 23, 2011)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: FRCC

Issue: FRCC conducted a spot check where it was determined that Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), as a Balancing Authority, had three Interchange Transaction Tags (tags) that did not identify the ramp rate start/stop times (null value); the default ramp rate did not accurately include the effects of ramp rate to calculate Area Control Error; and it was not the same ramp rate used by the other party to the tags used.

Finding: FRCC and GRU entered into a Settlement Agreement in which GRU neither admitted nor denied the violations, but agreed to the assessed penalty. FRCC found that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system because the mismatch between ramp rates was only between 10 or 20 minutes in the Scheduled Interchange between the affected Balancing Authorities. And, had there been any effect on the bulk power system, it would have been a temporary increase in inadvertent energy during the ramp times. The NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee considered the following in determining the penalty: GRU was cooperative during the enforcement process and there was no evidence that GRU intended to conceal or intentionally violate the Reliability Standard.

Penalty: $45,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued March 25, 2011 (no further review)

Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, Docket No. NP13-33 (April 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: 6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SERC

Issue: In January 2011, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company (LG&E/KU), as a BA, self-reported that it was unable to calculate its Area Control Error (ACE) for more than 30 minutes on August 19, 2010, but that it did not notify its RC as required. LG&E/KU was operating out of its Dix backup control center and, at 12:47 am on August 19, 2010, an operator inadvertently turned off the backup ACE Micro SCADA system, and therefore, LG&E/KU was unable to calculate ACE. LG&E/KU resumed the automatic calculation of ACE by 1:35 am.

Finding: SERC found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since the RC, without knowing that LG&EKU was unable to calculate ACE, may have been unprepared to respond to changes in system conditions. But, the RC did know that LG&E/KU had to transfer to the backup control center and, thus, may have had issues with performing its BA functions. In addition, LG&E/KU only lost the ability to calculate ACE for approximately 50 minutes during off-peak hours, and it had four redundant EMS servers which could have been used to supply ACE to personnel performing the BA functions. LG&E/KU neither admitted nor denied the violation. LG&E/KU’s internal compliance program was viewed as a neutral factor.

Total Penalty: $40,000 (aggregate for 6 violations)

FERC Order: Issued May 30, 2013 (no further review)

Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (MISO), Docket No. NP13-33 (April 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: 12

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: In October 2011, MISO, as a BA, self-reported that it improperly included retired Tie Line flows with the Adjacent BA Area in its Area Control Error (ACE) calculation. A MISO member entity reconfigured its substation such that it retired two Tie Line flows and added two new Tie Line flows with the Adjacent BA, but for a week MISO continued to receive data from the retired Tie Lines in addition to the new Tie Lines.

Finding: MRO found that the violation only constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability since the violation only lasted seven days and MISO’s SCADA-SE comparison showed an average MW difference of 43 MW. MISO performed a comprehensive review to ensure that all of its Tie Line ME metering was being properly telemetered and did not discover any other issues. The duration of the violation was from March 21, 2011 through March 28, 2011. MISO admitted the violation. MISO agreed to enhance its Tie Line error display to assist the operator in reconciling instances where there is a delay or overstatement in the MW hour value received from the local BA and to implement other measures, which MRO evaluated as a mitigating factor. While MISO did have prior violations of BAL-005-0.1b, MRO determined that these prior violations should not be considered an aggravating factor since they did not involve the same or similar conduct. MISO’s compliance program was viewed as a neutral factor.

Total Penalty: $0

FERC Order: Issued May 30, 2013 (no further review)

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), Docket No. NP12-47-000 (September 28, 2012)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: 8/8.1

Violation Risk Factor: Lower

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: In response to a Notice of Self-Certification for CY 2010 issued by WECC, PNM, a BA, submitted a Self-Certification citing noncompliance BAL-005-0 R8. PNM stated that data acquisition for a small set of inputs to Area Control Error (ACE) was not occurring every six seconds pursuant to the Reliability Standard.

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose minimal risk to BPS reliability which was mitigated because PNM calculated the ACE with data updated on a six second interval; however, some of the data routed through ICCP devices was relying on a 10 to 20 second refresh rate, a lag of between four and 14 seconds beyond the six second interval used to calculate the ACE. But, data routed through other devices outside the ICCP was refreshed on a six-second basis. WECC found that the ACE calculated using ICCP data updated every 10-20 seconds was not significantly different from ACE calculations using ICCP data updated every six seconds. In determining the appropriate penalty, WECC considered PNM's internal compliance program as a mitigating factor and the repeat violation of BAL-004-WECC-01 as an aggravating factor. PNM agreed/stipulated to WECC's findings.

Penalty: $79,000 (aggregate for nine penalties)

FERC Order: Issued October 26, 2012 (no further review)

Seminole Electric Cooperative (SEC), Docket No. NP12-18 (February 29, 2012)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: FRCC

Issue: SEC, as a Balancing Authority, submitted a self report explaining that between June 14, 2009 and August 11, 2009, thirty Interchange Transaction Tags (tags) did not identify the ramp rates or start/stop times (Null tags). SEC has a 20-minute default ramp rate for schedules inside or outside of FRCC for a Null tag in its Energy Management System (EMS) or interchange scheduler, but the default used by SEC and the other party for these Null tags was not the 20 minute ramp rate. The Null tags did not accurately include the effects of the varying ramp rates in its Schedule Interchange value to calculate Area Control Error (ACE).

Finding: FRCC determined the violation posed a minimal risk to BPS reliability for four reasons. First, the mismatch was only between a 10 or 20 minute ramp rate in the Scheduled Interchange between affected Balancing Authorities and there were no subsequent violations reported for Control Performance Standards (CPS1 and CPS2) for BAL-001-0a by the affected entities. Second, the mismatch would only have a possible effect to the BPS of a temporary increase in inadvertent energy during the ramp times. Third, the small number of the tags involved lessened the risk to the BPS. Fourth, the MW profile was between 1 to 129 MW but the result of the mismatched ramp rates between the Balancing Authorities would have varied from 0 to 32 MW maximum depending on the MW size. In determining the appropriate penalty, FRCC considered SEC’s strong compliance program as a mitigating factor.

Penalty: $12,000 (aggregate for 3 violations)

FERC Order: Issued March 30, 2012 (no further review)

Tampa Electric Company, FERC Docket No. NP11-132-000 (February 28, 2011)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: FRCC

Issue: Tampa Electric Company (TEC) self-reported that it did not identify the ramp rate start/stop times for thirty-eight Interchange Transaction Tags, and its default ramp rate start/stop times were different from the counterparty’s ramp rate start/stop times. Duration of violation was June 20, 2009, when the first tag failed to identify a ramp rate start/stop time, through August 26, 2010, when the violation was mitigated.

Finding: FRCC Enforcement determined that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system because only a small number of tags were mismatched, the only potential impact to the bulk power system was a temporary increase in inadvertent energy during ramp times, and the mismatch was only between a 10- or 20-minute ramp rate in the Scheduled Interchange between impacted Balancing Authorities. Further, the NERC BOTCC concluded the penalty appropriate because this was TEC’s first violation of the Standard, TEC self-reported the violation, and TEC was cooperative during the investigation.

Penalty: $46,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued March 25, 2011 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-266-000 (August 31, 2011)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: FRCC

Issue: FRCC determined that FRCC_URE1, in two instances, did not properly identify the ramp rate start/stop times in its Interchange Transaction Tags. In addition, FRCC_URE1's default and the other party to the tag's default did not include the same ramp rate and did not accurately incorporate the effect of the ramp rate in the schedule interchange value in order to calculate the Area Control Error.

Finding: FRCC found that the violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since the tag mismatch was confined to a 10 or 20 minute ramp rate (or 35 MW in the Scheduled Interchange between the Balancing Authorities) and there were no subsequent relevant violations. In addition, the violation only involved two tags and the only potential effect on the bulk power system from the mismatch was a temporary increase in inadvertent energy during the ramp times. The duration of the violation was from June 22, 2009 through November 13, 2009.

Penalty: $38,000 (aggregate for 11 violations)

FERC Order: Issued September 30, 2011 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP12-9 (December 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: BAL-005-0.1b

Requirement: R9 (2 violations)

Violation Risk Factor: Lower (for both violations)

Violation Severity Level: Severe (for both violations)

Region: RFC

Issue: URE self-reported that one day, at approximately 9:00 am, one of its servers that controls access to the Physical Scheduling System (PSS) had an outage. During the outage, URE personnel were unable to view future Interchange Schedules with their adjacent BAs listed in the PSS. Therefore, URE did not include, as required, changes in the Interchange Schedule for the Hour Ending 12 in its PSS or ACE equation (1 violation). URE also self-reported that a defect in its PSS software caused its operators to be unable to act upon schedule adjustments in situations when multiple adjustments to the same e-Tag were issued concurrently or successively. URE had developed manual fixes to address the software problem, but these manual fixes were not always effective as not all of the adjustments to the same e-Tag were reflected in URE’s PSS or calculated Net Scheduled Interchange (NSI). Therefore, as a result of the problems with the manual fixes, URE was not including all Interchanges Schedules with adjacent BAs in its calculation of NSI for the ACE equation (1 violation).

Finding: RFC found that the BAL-005-0.1b violations constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. For the first BAL-005-0.1b violation, the risk was mitigated since URE maintained its frequency within the appropriate range. In addition, during the server outage, URE’s operators had continuous access to e-Tags, which allowed them to manually monitor and to act on Interchange Schedules. The duration of the violation was only one hour on one day. For the second BAL-005-0.1b violation, URE did not notice any significant adverse impact when there were multiple schedule adjustments issued for the same e-Tag. URE had also granted relief through subsequent curtailment or adjustment requests and had achieved frequency within the range of a normal operating day. In determining the aggregate penalty amount, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that certain of the violations were self-reported; URE was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; URE had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); URE adopted additional efforts to improve reliability (such as updates to its software for effective CA access management) that went beyond the requirements in the mitigation plan; the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability; and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregate for 6 violations)

FERC Order: Issued January 27, 2012 (no further review)