NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard COM-002-2 | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard COM-002-2

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard COM-002-2

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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.

American Electric Power Service Corporation as agent for Appalachian Power Company, Columbus Southern Power Company, Indiana Michigan Power Company, Kentucky Power Company, Kingsport Power Company, Ohio Power Company, and Wheeling Power Company, FERC Docket No. NP13-35 (May 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: On the evening of June 23, 2010, PJM, American Electric Power Service Corporation's (AEP) Reliability Coordinator, experienced multiple outages on the AEP 138 kV system in the Benton Harbor area of southwest Michigan (the Kenzie Creek Event). In September 2010, AEP filed a self-report on the incident, stating that it did not have sufficiently clear and direct communications with its Transmission Dispatch Center (TDC) when discussing options to alleviate the overload on the Kenzie Creek-Valley transmission path. There were two communication instances on June 23, 2010 between the AEP System Control Center (SCC) operators and the AEP TDC operators in which the required three-part communication was not used. In both cases, the AEP SCC operator used non-definitive language, which resulted in directives that were not clear, concise and definitive as required.

Finding: RFC found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since it increased the chances that, as a result of unclear communications, the recipients of RC, TOP and BA directives would not properly execute the directives, which can cause delays in implementing the appropriate course of action. But, the risk was mitigated since Benten Harbor's location in the interconnection and its network topology isolated the relevant facilities. As a result, there was no identified risk of low voltage tripping generation and spreading beyond the Benton Harbor area, and cascading outages beyond the immediate area were unlikely. The COM-002-2 R2 violation occurred for one hour on June 23, 2010. AEP admitted to the facts of the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that one of the violations was self-reported and that AEP had a compliance program in place (which was viewed as a partial mitigating factor). AEP also had two previous violations of FAC-009-1 R1. AEP was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations. Furthermore, AEP conducted an apparent cause analysis after the Kenzie Creek Event. In regards to the Kenzie Creek incident, one violation (FAC-009-1 R1) constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability; five violations (COM-002-2 R2, EOP-003-1 R8, IRO-001-1.1 R8, PER-002-0 R1 and TOP-001-1 R5) constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability; and four violations (EOP-001-0 R3, EOP-003-1 R1 and TOP-001-1 R1 and R2) constituted a serious and substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Total Penalty: $225,000 (aggregate for 10 violations)

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

Arizona Public Service Company, FERC Docket No. NP11-89-000 (January 31, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: In January 2010, WECC, through an onsite compliance audit, determined that in four instances (two on November 16, 2009, one on December 14, 2009, and the last on January 12, 2010), generator operators for the Arizona Public Service Company (AZPS) had not repeated directives received from the AZPS' system operators back to the system operators as required. Furthermore, the AZPS' system operators had not mandated that the directives be repeated.

Finding: WECC and AZPS entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the violation, whereby AZPS agreed to pay a penalty of $15,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures to resolve the violation. WECC found that the violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability as the four instances (which occurred during six hours of voice recordings) were all related to routine operations and all of the requested actions were issued in a clear and concise manner and were performed as directed. In addition, WECC did not find instances of non-compliance regarding communications from AZPS' transmission operator desk. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that this was AZPS' first violation of this Reliability Standard; AZPS was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violation; AZPS already had a compliance program in place (which was reviewed as a mitigating factor); and there were no additional mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $15,000

FERC Order: Issued March 2, 2011 (no further review)

Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Docket No. NP13-15 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NERC Compliance Enforcement Authority

Issue: On November 7, 2008, the Western Interconnection experienced a Category 2 disturbance caused by a forced outage of a San Diego Gas and Electric Company 500 kV transmission line. Loss of this line caused APS to immediately re-rate Path 49 and distribute a WECC-Net message to notify pertinent entities of the new Operating Transfer Capability Limit on the path. It also directed certain generation to back down in order to relieve the affected lines. In issuing a directive to the Gila River facility operator, and again in issuing a directive to the Navajo Plant facility operator, APS failed to issue its directive in a clear, concise and definitive manner, failed to make sure the operator repeated the information back correctly, and failed to repeat the initial directive when the operator failed to repeat it back. These failures violated R2.

Finding: NERC determined that the violation posed a moderate and not serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because failure to use the proper communication procedures could have delayed relief of the transmission lines. Duration of violation was one day, November 7, 2008.

Total Penalty: $250,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

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

Arlington Valley, LLC - AVBA, FERC Docket No. NP13-9 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: AVBA self-reported, as a TOP, that it did not maintain a predetermined communication path for notifying all of the necessary entities (i.e., its Reliability Coordinator, Balancing Authority and adjoining TOPs) of conditions that had the potential to threaten area reliability or when firm load shedding was planned.

Finding: WECC found that the COM-002-2 R1 violation only constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability. In terms of the COM-002-2 R1 violation, Constellation Energy Control and Dispatch (CECD), in its role as AVBA's BA Service Agent, was managing, in part, AVBA's telecommunications facilities. In addition, neither the Reliability Coordinator nor the neighboring TOP had alerted AVBA to any reliability concerns during the course of the violation. The duration of the COM-002-2 R1 violation was from November 5, 2007 through May 26, 2009. AVBA stipulated to the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC considered the fact that these violations were AVBA's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; the violations were not intentional and were promptly mitigated once discovered; and AVBA was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations. In addition, all but one of AVBA's violations did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregate for 43 violations)

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

California Independent System Operator (CAISO), Docket No. NP13-56-000 (Sept. 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NERC

Issue: Pursuant to a Settlement Agreement entered into between the parties, CAISO was found to be in violation of multiple Reliability Standards with respect to a forced outage experienced by the Western Interconnection Bulk Electric System of the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) TL 50001 transmission line between SDG&E’s Imperial Valley and Miguel Substations, which was itself caused by a fire in a series capacitor bank. Among other violations, CAISO was found to violate COM-002-2 R2 in failing to issue directives in a clear, concise manner and to ensure that the directive’s recipient correctly repeated the information back.

Finding: NERC found that this violation posed a moderate, but not serious or substantial, risk to BPS reliability as the failure to issue directives using a three-part communication may have increased the duration of the event. Even though the directive was followed, a more concise directive may have resulted in quicker action. In determining the appropriate penalty, NERC considered the following: (1) CAISO had not previously been subject to NERC Reliability Standards violations; (2) CAISO self-reported violations; (3) CAISO was cooperative in the enforcement process; (4) CAISO maintained a compliance program at the time of the event; (5) CAISO did not appear to hide or cover up any violation; and (6) CAISO voluntarily took additional mitigating activities which included significant investment to improve its operations and avoid future violations.

Total Penalty: $120,000 (aggregate for 6 violations)

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

EDF Trading North America, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP12-12 (January 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: TRE

Issue: EDF Trading, as a Generator Operator (GOP), did not have communications available for addressing a real-time emergency condition on February 2, 2011, as required by the Standard. On February 2, 2011, there was an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) event and Verbal Dispatch Instructions for 384 MW of ERCOT system Emergency Interruptible Load Service (EILS) system loads as part of a manual load shed in response to the EEA were sent through a hot line. EDF Trading reported that there was power to the phone system and operators were available to answer the phone but it claimed it did not receive the Verbal Dispatch Instruction. Eventually it was determined by ERCOT that EDF Trading’s phone was off the hook.

Finding: The violation posed only a moderate risk to BPS reliability because of the small amount of interruptible load involved and the short time frame in which EDF Trading was unavailable. Also, EDF Trading eventually deployed its EILS as required by ERCOT Protocols. TRE determined that this failure to follow the reliability directive was not the result of any system reliability failure. EDF Trading’s internal compliance program was considered a mitigating factor in determining the appropriate penalty.

Penalty: $21,000 (aggregate for two violations)

FERC Order: Order issued March 1, 2012 (no further review)

Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP11-268-000 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: Texas RE

Issue: On February 26, 2008, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) declared an Emergency Electric Curtailment Plan Step 2 (EECP2) event on its system due to an unexpected imbalance between generation and load, causing a reduction in system frequency to levels that were outside acceptance operational limits. The event lasted two hours, but did not reduce in involuntary customer load shedding. Through an audit, Texas RE determined that ERCOT did not have predetermined communication paths between its primary and backup control centers for the emergency. ERCOT's hotline call to notify relevant entities of the emergency did not reach the Austin Control Center (ACC) until ten minutes after the event was declared, even though the ACC operator was responsible for some Balancing Authority functions during an emergency.

Finding: Texas RE determined that the violation posed a serious and substantial risk to the BPS because it put the Texas grid reliability at unnecessary and avoidable higher levels of risk than would otherwise have been the case, potentially leading to a wide spread and severe system disturbance. Duration of violation was February 26, 2008. Texas RE and the NERC BOTCC took into consideration that this was ERCOT's first violation of the Standard in reaching a penalty assessment, and also concluded that the serious and substantial risk to the BPS constituted an aggravating factor.

Penalty: $384,000 (aggregate for 15 violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 28, 2011 (no further review)

Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP11-268-000 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: Texas RE

Issue: Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) self-reported a violation because its system operators issued fifty-six reliability-related directives that were not repeated back by the recipients.

Finding: Texas RE determined that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the BPS because the incidents represented only 2.10% of the directives issued by ERCOT during the relevant time period, and the directives were ultimately followed by the recipients such that no reliability impact actually occurred. Duration of violation was August 11, 2007 through September 26, 2008. Texas RE and the NERC BOTCC took into consideration that this was ERCOT's first violation of the Standard in reaching a penalty assessment, and ERCOT self-reported the violation.

Penalty: $384,000 (aggregate for 15 violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 28, 2011 (no further review)

Entergy, Docket No. NP12-41-000 (August 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe (three instances), moderate (one instance), high (one instance)

Region: SERC

Issue: Entergy self-reported that it violated R2 on five separate occasions by failing to use three-part communication required by the standard. The first violation occurred on August 19, 2010, when Entergy issued directives to a BA and a GOP to bring more generation online following the trip offline of all five units at Sabine station due to low gas pressure. The second violation occurred when Entergy directed a local transmission switching center to shed load during a December 27, 2010 load shedding event. The third violation occurred on March 9, 2011, when Entergy directed a local transmission switching center to place a capacitor bank in service following a real-time overload of a 115 kV transmission system. The fourth event occurred on April 26, 2011, when Entergy directed the local transmission switching center to shed some load following weather-related trips of two 230 kV transmission lines. The fifth violation occurred on January 6, 2010, when an Entergy employee contacted two GOPs and directed them to place units online following several cold-weather related generator unit trips.

Finding: SERC determined that the violations on August 19, 2010 and January 6, 2010 posed a minimal risk to the reliability of the BPS because although three-part communication was not used, the recipient in each instance did in fact understand the directives and took the required actions. In addition, Entergy participates in the SPP Reserve Sharing Group, which augments Entergy's ability to respond to outages. In contrast, the violation on December 27, 2010 posed a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because immediate action was necessary in order to control transmission line loading, and a failure to act properly could have resulted in widespread outages. Nevertheless, the amount of load that had to be shed was small, and the directive was in fact understood and followed. SERC determined the violation on March 9, 2011 posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the BPS because it could have resulted in widespread outages, but three-part communication was used in the final solution, and the incident only involved shedding 35 MW, which was accomplished within 15 minutes. SERC determined the violation on April 26, 2011 posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the BPS because it could have resulted in widespread outages, but the directive was clear, concise and definitive, was repeated back correctly, and was understood and followed.

Penalty: $150,000 (aggregate for 7 violations)

FERC Order: Issued September 28, 2012 (no further review)

Farmington Electric Utility System, FERC Docket No. NP10-40-000 (February 1, 2010)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Two voice recordings of Farmington Electric Utility System ("FEUS") directives reviewed by the auditors did not require the personnel receiving the directives to repeat back the directive correctly, as required by the standard. Duration of the violation was from February 15, 2008 through June 5, 2008.

Finding: Penalty was deemed appropriate because these were FEUS' first violations of the applicable standards, FEUS self-reported eleven of the violations, and FEUS is a small generation and transmission system that had made a substantial commitment of financial and personnel resources to NERC compliance relative to its size.

Penalty: $40,250 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued March 3, 2010 (no further review)

Iberdrola Renewables, FERC Docket No. NP11-258-000 (August 11, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: TRE

Issue: During an audit in 2010, TRE found that on December 21, 2008, Iberdrola Renewables (Iberdrola) did not properly follow a directive (or Verbal Dispatch Instruction) from ERCOT that it disconnect its Penascal wind farm from the grid.

Finding: TRE and Iberdrola entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby Iberdrola agreed to pay a penalty of $7,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. TRE found that the COM-002-2 violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since the Penascal wind farm was in testing mode and only exporting approximately 26 MW of power to the ERCOT grid when the directive was issued. In addition, there was confusion over the exact real power output from the Penascal wind farm (as a result of telemetry issues), which is what caused ERCOT to issue the directive. The COM-002-2 violation occurred on December 21, 2008. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that these were Iberdrola’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; Iberdrola was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; Iberdrola had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $7,000 (aggregate for 4 violations)

FERC Order: Issued September 9, 2011 (no further review)

Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL), Docket No. NP12-18 (February 29, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: RFC

Issue: In August of 2009, an overhead ground (static) wire used for lightning protection to the conductor separated and fell across several of IPL’s transmission lines which in turn caused several problems such as a high impedance phase-to-ground fault, loss of distribution transformers and a boiler trip. IPL reported the line may have been damaged by lightning strikes to the tower during a severe thunderstorm in early August 2009. ReliabilityFirst initiated a Compliance Investigation (CI) in October 2009 to find the cause of the event. While conducting the CI, ReliabilityFirst found two instances in which IPL issued directives in its role as a BA and TOP, but the communication did not adhere to the requirements of COM-002-2 R2 – “three-part communication.” In two instances, directives were responded to with “okay” without repeating the directive as required.

Finding: ReliabilityFirst found the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability for four reasons. First, the directives were issued in a clear and concise manner. Second, all points on IPL’s system are monitored in real time through the SCADA system. Third, IPL’s TOP monitors the actions of the IPL GOPs and during this event the TOP confirmed both directives. Fourth, IPL did not use three-part communications in only two instances out of hundreds that were reviewed. ReliabilityFirst considered certain aspects of IPL’s compliance program and that IPL was proactive in reporting the event when determining the appropriate penalty.

Penalty: $15,000 (aggregate for two violations)

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

Lincoln Electric System, FERC Docket No. NP09-31-000 (July 10, 2009)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: LES transmission switching personnel did not confirm or repeat back directives issued to the transmission system operator and did not verify that steps in switching orders had been completed. In addition, in at least one instance a switchman realized during the switching process that the switching sequence could not be completed as required in the switching order and, without contacting the control center operator, implemented a different switching sequence.

Finding: The violation occurred from June 18, 2007 when the standard became effective through June 27, 2008. In assessing a penalty for aggregate violations, MRO considered (1) LES' cooperation during the audit and immediate corrective measures taken in response to alleged violations; and (2) the alleged violation of COM-002-2 did not put the bulk power system reliability at serious or substantial risk because of the limited size of LES' transmission operating area and because it acted quickly to correct the violation.

Penalty: $50,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued August 7, 2009 (no further review)

Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP12-10 (December 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: On September 18, 2007, there was a cascade of multiple lines from the Minnesota-Wisconsin Stability Interface, which caused over frequency generator tripping and under frequency load shedding and the formation of system islands. MRO and NERC conducted an investigation in which they determined that the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (MISO), as the RC responding to the problems, did not issue its directives in a clear, concise and definitive manner (such as when an entity failed to identify the amount of generation MISO directed to be brought online). MISO also did not properly use three-way communications or verify that the three-way protocols were being followed when giving directions to entities.

Finding: MRO found that the violation constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability since MISO’s directives were actually followed. In addition, MISO’s directives did not contribute to the loss of load, since they were issued during the restoration period. MISO’s actions allowed for quick restoration and stabilization of the relevant parts of the BPS. The violation occurred on September 18, 2007. In deciding not to impose a penalty, MRO considered the fact that this was MISO’s first violation of this Reliability Standard (even though it had other Reliability Standards violations in RFC); MISO has a compliance program in place; and MISO has committed to host two forums on control room communications and compliance with the COM-002-2 Reliability Standard.

Penalty: $0

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

Minnesota Power (Allete, Inc.), FERC Docket No. NP11-08-000 (November 5, 2010)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: MRO

Issue: MRO determined that Minnesota Power (Allete, Inc.) (MP), as a Transmission Operator, did not issue a directive in a clear, concise and definitive manner and did not ensure the recipient of the directive repeated the information back correctly.

Finding: MRO imposed a $62,500 penalty for this and other violations. In assessing the penalty, MRO considered the following facts: the violation constituted MP's first violation of the subject NERC Reliability Standard; MP cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; MP's compliance program; MP did not attempt to conceal the violation or intend to do so; the violation did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances.

Penalty: $62,500 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued December 3, 2010 (no further review)

NAES Corporation-Tracy, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: NAES Corporation-Tracy (NAES-Tracy) self-reported that it did not possess sufficient documentation concerning its communication links to the appropriate Reliability Coordinators, Balancing Authorities, and Transmission Operators.

Finding: WECC found that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since NAES-Tracy had actually established communication channels with the appropriate Reliability Coordinators, Balancing Authorities, and Transmission Operators. The violation was self-reported and this was NAES-Tracy's first violation of this Reliability Standard. Even though the violation occurred before the Reliability Standards became mandatory, NAES-Tracy did not timely complete its mitigation plan, turning the violation into a post-June 18, 2007 violation. Even with the late completion of the mitigation plan, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

FERC Order: Issued November 13, 2009 (no further review)

Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP12-10 (December 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: During a spot check in April 2010, NPCC found that when Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (NMPC) issued a directive to perform switching at a substation, the NMPC control room operator did not issue the directive in a clear, concise and definitive manner or have the recipient repeat the information back as required.

Finding: NPCC found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since the communication errors could have caused the switching to be performed incorrectly (which could lead to delays in restoration or equipment being forced out of service). But, the relevant communication occurred under normal operating conditions and the substation operator followed the switching order. The violation occurred on June 14, 2009. NMPC had an internal compliance program in place, which was evaluated as a mitigating factor especially in regards to the involvement of NMPC’s senior leadership.

Penalty: $25,000

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

Northern States Power (Xcel Energy) (NSP), FERC Docket No. NP13-44 (July 31, 2013)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: The MRO region experienced a category four event on September 18, 2007, which ultimately caused a load loss of approximately 9 MW in the United States. Following the event, NERC conducted a Compliance Investigation. NSP, as a BA and TOP, was found to have violated the COM-002-2 requirements when it was determined that during four telephone communications, the NSP transmission operator did not give directives in a clear, concise manner, did not require the generator operator to repeat back the directives, and did not utilize three-part communication.

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose a moderate, but not serious or substantial, risk to BPS reliability. BPS reliability depends on clear, concise and definitive communications in order to avoid misunderstandings, misdirection and miscommunication. In this instance, the risk to BPS reliability was mitigated because the four communications which are the subject of this violation were between operators having access to the same energy management system, and the operators all saw the same system status information. The operators involved were also familiar with the correct use of three-part communication and clear, concise and definitive directives. MRO determined that despite the violation the directives given were correctly responded to. NSP neither admitted nor denied the violations but agreed to a settlement with the MRO. In determining the appropriate penalty, NSP’s compliance history was considered an aggravating factor. NSP cooperated during the enforcement procedure, and there was no evidence that NSP tried to conceal the violations nor was there evidence the violations were intentional. MRO also considered NSP’s internal compliance program.

Total Penalty: $250,000 (aggregate for four violations)

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

Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, Docket No. NP11-270 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: RFC

Issue: Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) submitted a Self-Report and RFC determined OVEC violated R2 because it failed to ensure that the recipient of a directive it issued in its capacity as a BA and TOP repeated the information back correctly.

Finding: RFC determined that the violations posed moderate risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because OEVC had proper communication procedures in place, this was just one isolated incident. Moreover, the recipient executed the directive properly and even if it had not, there were redundant systems in place that would have minimized the impact to the BPS.

Penalty: $15,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 28, 2011 (no further review)

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Docket No. NP11-270 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: Following a self-report, WECC determined that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) violated R2 because NERC-certified operators did not follow the three way communication requirements of this standard when it issued an operational directive related to a planned outage.

Finding: WECC determined that the violations posed minimal risk and did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because PG&E used three way communication to prevent errors during normal and emergency operations and to issue reliability directives. The violation lasted one day.

Penalty: $20,300 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 28, 2011 (no further review)

PacifiCorp (PAC), Docket No. NP13-5-000 (October 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: PAC, in its role as a TOP, self-reported a violation of R2 when, on two occasions, PAC transmission operators did not ensure three-part communication in an emergency condition. Following two instances of System Operating Limit (SOL) exceedances, the operators issued directives to reduce generation output but failed to have the information correctly repeated back to them.

Finding: WECC determined that the COM-002-2 R2 violation posed a minimal risk to the reliability of the BPS because both events were related to SOLs, and in each instance, PAC issued appropriate directives that were clear, concise and definitive which were implemented as directed. Had the directives not been implemented, PAC would have been able to reduce generation elsewhere. WECC and PAC entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby PAC agreed to pay a penalty and to undertake other mitigation measures to come into compliance with R2. WECC considered PAC's internal compliance program a mitigating factor in making its penalty determination. The violations occurred on April 10, 2011 and on January 18, 2011. PAC does not contest the R2 violation.

Penalty: $10,000

FERC Order: Issued November 29, 2012 (no further review)

PacifiCorp, FERC Docket No. NP15-4-000 (October 30, 2014)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: PacifiCorp (PAC) self-certified that during a December 4, 2013 conference call to discuss a planned three-day outage, PAC did not receive the required verbal confirmation from the two Distribution Providers regarding a directive to shed 20 MW and 10 MW of load as it answered a question from another entity before the Distribution Providers repeated the directive.

Finding: WECC determined that the violation constituted only a minimal risk to the BPS reliability. Although failing to have the Distribution Providers confirm the load shedding instructions could have resulted in a potential loss of a 161-138 kV transformer, the two Distribution Providers did shed 38 MW and 21.85 MW of load as directed. In addition, PAC had on file with the RC and affected entities plans for pre and post-contingency actions regarding the loss of the transformer at issue. Moreover, PAC’s NERC-certified operators were continuously monitoring the system and would have been prepared to issue additional load shed directives if necessary. The COM-002-2 violation occurred on December 4, 2013. PAC agreed and stipulated to the facts of the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC found that neither of the violations posed a serious or substantial threat to the BPS reliability. Both violations involved load shedding directives. In addition, PAC’s COM-002-2 violation represented its second violation of that Reliability Standard, which was considered an aggravating factor. But, PAC self-reported the TOP-001-1a violation, had a compliance program in place, was cooperative throughout the enforcement process, and did not conceal the violations.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: Issued November 28, 2014 (no further review)

Peak Reliability (Peak), FERC Docket No. NP15-21-000 (February 26, 2015)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: WECC

Issue: Peak self-reported that on two occasions it failed to follow three part communication when giving a TOP a directive. On May 19, 2014, Peak directed the TOP to redispatch 250 MW of generation to mitigate an SOL exceedance. Due to different terminology, the TOP repeated the same directive, but in different terms as reducing Path 73 by 125 MW. While Peak did not repeat the directive or correct the TOP’s statement, the result of correcting the SOL was the same. On April 17, 2014, to mitigate another SOL exceedance, Peak directed the TOP to curtail schedules on Path 65 to get below the limit of 1,300 MW. Referring to a different location on the Path, yet ultimately coming to the same corrective action, the TOP repeated the directive as a 1,332 MW limit. In both instances the TOP understood the directive and corrected the SOL within 25 minutes.

Finding: WECC found that the violation posed only a minimal, but not a serious or substantial risk, to the BPS reliability as both the TOPs and Peak had discussed the SOL exceedances and status of the Paths prior to the directives. Furthermore, Peak, using its energy management system, monitored the status of the system and the TOPs understood and complied with the directives and corrected the exceedances in a timely manner. In addition, Peak’s operators are trained to issue additional directives if initial ones are not followed and in both instances the violations did not cause any damage to the system. Peak agreed to the facts of the settlement agreement. But the NERC BOTCC considered Peak’s five previous violations of the same standard an aggravating factor when approving the settlement agreement. However, Peak had an internal compliance program in place and agreed to implement a series of reliability-focused measures related to compliance with the COM standard in addition to a Mitigation Plan and the fines imposed. In addition, Peak was cooperative throughout the compliance enforcement process and there was no attempt to conceal the violations.

Penalty: $60,000 (1 violation)

FERC Order: Pending

PJM Interconnection, LLC, Docket No. NP12-27 (May 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: During a compliance investigation, RFC determined that PJM Interconnection, LLC (PJM), as the RC, TOP and BA, during a system disturbance on March 4, 2009 gave verbal communications to GOPs, but did not give those verbal communications in a clear, concise and definitive manner, ensure that the recipient repeats the communication or acknowledges the response as correct or repeat the original, as required.

Finding: RFC found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. But, PJM had a three-part communication strategy and has since amended its procedures to improve its issuance of verbal directives. In the March 4, 2009 incident, the GOP received the same directive given in the verbal communication through the Unit Dispatch System and the requested actions were performed by the GOPs without delay and without causing any negative impact. The duration of the violation was from March 4, 2009 through June 1, 2011. RFC evaluated as mitigating factors certain aspects of PJM’s compliance program and its cooperation with RFC. This violation was not considered to be a repeat violation.

Penalty: $10,000 (aggregate for 4 violations)

FERC Order: Order issued June 29, 2012 (no further review)

PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM), Docket No. NP14-12 (Dec. 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: On June 23, 2010, PJM had several outages on the American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP) 138 kV system in the Benton Harbor area of southwest Michigan. Subsequently, PJM, in its role as an RC, BA and TOP, self-reported to RFC that during the circuit overload event, its operators did not issue directives in a clear, concise and definitive manner; did not have the communication repeated back; and did not affirm the response was correct nor repeat the original communication as required by COM-002-2 R2 (three-part communication).

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose a moderate risk to BPS reliability, but not a serious or substantial risk. RFC determined that the failure to clearly issue directives led to delays in the relieving the overload which increased the risk to BPS reliability; however, that risk was mitigated because the Benton Harbor area’s placement in the interconnection, together with network topology, isolated the involved facilities lessening any risk of cascading outages and overall harm to the BPS.

Total Penalty: $0 (for four violations)

FERC Order: Issued January 29, 2014 (no further review)

Public Utility District No. 1 of Clark County (CKPD), Docket No. NP12-5 (November 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: In preparation for its registration with NERC as a TOP, in April 2009 CKPD self-reported non-compliance with COM-002-2 R1. CKPD explained that its TOP, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), informed it on April 6, 2009, that it would no longer function as CKPD’s TOP effective immediately. As a result, CKPD was required to register as a TOP and report non-compliance with the Standard. CKPD reported that the requirements of COM-002-2 were new to CKPD because of its TOP registration, and at the time of registration, CKPD did not have voice and data link communications with the appropriate RCs, BAs and TOPs, in violation of this Standard.

Finding: WECC determined this violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS. WECC took into consideration that CKPD was assuming a new TOP function. Although CKPD did not have the communications set up as required by the Standard, BPS risk was mitigated because the basic lines of communications (voice and data) with the RC and BPA were still in place while CKPD completed its documentation to comply with the Standard. In addition, at the time of its registration for the TOP function, CKPD was satisfying the requirements for its other functions as a TO, PSE, LSE, DP, GO and GOP. BPA performed tests on CKPD’s electric system during April 2009 which showed that it was not conducting TOP duties at the facility and the facility was not required to maintain system reliability. BPA also reported that CPKD employs experienced operators and also has internal maintenance procedures including a 24-hour dispatch center. WECC assessed no penalty for the violation based on the extenuating circumstances surrounding the non-compliance. In particular, BPA’s notice to CKPD that it would no longer operate as the TOP was unexpected and effective immediately. Consequently, CKPD was immediately responsible for registration and compliance with all applicable TOP standards. WECC also considered the following mitigating factors: the violations were self-reported, mitigation plans were quickly submitted and timely completed; the risk to the BPS was not serious or substantial; the violations were not repeat violations; and CKPD did not dispute the violations.

Penalty: $0 (for 33 violations)

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

Sacramento Municipal Utility District, FERC Docket No. NP12-8 (December 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NCEA

Issue: During a compliance investigation regarding a December 26, 2008 incident where Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) lost substation DC control voltage supply at its Orangevale (ORV) substation, NCEA found that, during the incident, the SMUD Power System Operator (PSO) issued a directive to the Distribution Systems Operator (DSO) to immediately offload load from ORV. But, this directive was not issued in a clear, concise and definitive manner as required. The DSO was also not required to report the information back correctly and the PSO did not subsequently repeat the original directive as required. Even when the DSO called the PSO back to reaffirm the directive, the PSO did not have the DSO repeat back the directive or acknowledge that the DSO understood the instructions. Furthermore, when ordering switching to substation personnel at ORV, the PSO was not consistently issuing its directives in a definitive manner as required or verifying that the directives were repeated back correctly.

Finding: NCEA found that the COM-002-2 violation constituted only a minimal risk to BPS reliability since any impact would likely be limited to the local vicinity of SMUD’s own system facilities and would not spread throughout the Western Interconnection. In addition, SMUD’s failure to comply with this Reliability Standard did not lengthen the duration of the incident or the impact of the Operating Emergency on BPS reliability. The duration of the COM-002-2 violation was at least one hour and 27 minutes, the length of the incident when SMUD was operating its portion of the BPS around its ORV in an unknown operating state. SMUD has invested over $1.17 million to install redundant measures in its backup systems in a number of its substations. In determining the aggregate penalty amount, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that these violations were SMUD’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; one of the violations was self-reported; SMUD was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; SMUD had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability; and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $100,000 (aggregate for 6 violations)

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

Southwest Power Pool, Inc. - ICTE, FERC Docket No. NP13-14 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2 (3 instances)

Violation Risk Factor: Medium (3 instances)

Violation Severity Level: High (2 instances), Severe (1 instance)

Region: SERC

Issue: Southwest Power Pool, Inc. – ICTE (SPP-ICTE) self-reported that on January 11, 2009 it did not use three-part communication when directing a TOP to close a breaker at a substation in order to avoid a threat to area reliability. SPP-ICTE did not require the recipient of the directive to repeat the information back to SPP-ICTE correctly, and thus, SPP-ICTE did not acknowledge the response as correct or repeat the original statement to resolve any misunderstandings (first instance). SPP-ICTE also self-reported that on May 22, 2010, it issued a Transmission Loading Relief (TLR) 5B and ordered the curtailment of several hundred MW of contract flows. During a conversation between SPP-ICTE and the BA about the curtailments, SPP-ICTE did not require the BA to repeat the directive as required (second instance). In addition, during a compliance audit, SERC found that on July 10, 2008, upon request of the BA, SPP-ICTE issue a directive to match the Amite-South imports to its limits, but did not have the BA repeat the directive to confirm its understanding (third instance). SPP-ITCE performs the RC function for Entergy.

Finding: SERC found that the violations constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. By not confirming the receipt of the directives, TOPs may misunderstand the directives and thereby not execute the directed action. But, in the January 11, 2009 incident, SPP-ICTE and the TOP had been discussing the situation, and the TOP understood the action that was directed. For the May 22, 2010 incident, while a real-time loading problem was occurring, the BA complied with the directive and acknowledged the curtailment tags. In addition, SPP-ICTE only had to issue the directive because of the BA’s call (which occurred within the 15-minute deadline for acknowledging the curtailment tags). For the July 10, 2008 incident, while it occurred during a real-time loading problem, SPP-ICTE and the BA were discussing the problem in real-time, they both understood the action that was ordered, and the BA promptly undertook the directed action. SERC found that the three violations were isolated incidents and did not represent a system failure of SPP-ICTE’s compliance program. SPP-ICTE neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC considered the fact that SPP-ICTE did not have any previous violations of the Reliability Standard and that it had a compliance program in place (which was viewed as a mitigating factor). SPP-ICTE was also cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

Total Penalty: $35,000

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

Stanton Wind, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP11-94-000 (January 31, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: TRE

Issue: Texas RE found that Stanton Wind, LLC (Stanton Wind), as a Generator Operator, failed to maintain staff available to respond to the Reliability Coordinator's directive to address a real time reliability issue.

Finding: The NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee (NERC BOTCC) approved a Settlement Agreement, including Texas RE's assessment of a thirty five thousand dollar ($35,000) financial penalty. In reaching this determination, the NERC BOTCC considered the following facts, among others: the violation constituted Stanton Wind's first violation of the subject NERC Reliability Standard; Stanton Wind cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; Stanton Wind did not attempt to conceal a violation or intend to do so; the violation did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system; and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances.

Penalty: $35,000

FERC Order: Issued March 2, 2011 (no further review)

The Empire District Electric Company (Empire), Docket No. NP13-39-000 (May 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 1; 1.1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP RE

Issue: Empire, as a Balancing Authority (BA), Generator Operator, and Transmission Operator (TOP), self-reported a violation of COM-002-2 R1.1 on September 27, 2012. A threatening condition that had the potential to threaten the area’s reliability occurred after Empire’s energy management system became unresponsive March, 7, 8, 9, and 10, each time for 40 minutes or less. In violation of the standard, Empire failed to notify its Reliability Coordinator and potentially affected BAs and TOPs of the condition.

Finding: SPP RE found that this violation posed a moderate, but not serious or substantial, risk to the bulk power system’s reliability. The loss of its EMS impaired the real-time capability of Empire’s system operators to monitor the system, but Empire’s backup EMS system effectively mitigated this loss. During the shorter outages, Empire’s system operators maintained, through tie-line data received from Empire’s neighbors, partial situational awareness of power flows even before the backup EMS would be activated. Empire’s system status did not change significantly during these short outages and the EMS failures did not affect neighboring BAs, TOPs, and the RCs. In determining an appropriate penalty, SPP RE credited Empire’s internal compliance program (ICP) which provides for a reliability compliance department (RCD), a manager of reliability compliance, and a reliability compliance team. The RCD, overseen by the manager of reliability compliance, is in charge of the developing NERC compliant policies and procedures. The manager of reliability compliance also oversees personnel compliance training and meetings and internal compliance assessments.

Total Penalty: $3,500

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

Turlock Irrigation District, FERC Docket No. NP10-18-000 (November 13, 2009)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Recipient of TID operator call did not always repeat back the directives issued, and the operator did not require the recipient to repeat back each directive after it was issued. Duration of the violation was from June 9, 2008 through December 19, 2008.

Finding: WECC gave consideration to the fact that TID is a small entity with limited financial resources, the violation resulted in a minimal to moderate impact to the reliability of the bulk power system, the violation was TID's first of this requirement, and TID provided evidence of a superlative compliance program.

Penalty: $80,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Order Denying Rehearing and Providing Clarification, issued June 21, 2012, 139 FERC ¶ 61,248 (2012); http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2012/062112/E-8.pdf

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-178-000 (April 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: In April 2009, the Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) self-reported that one of its operators, in two instances, had not verified that a recipient of a directive repeated the relevant information back without error and had not acknowledged the response as correct or restated the original directive in order to correct any misunderstandings.

Finding: WECC and the URE entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby the URE agreed to pay a penalty of $35,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. WECC found that the violation of COM-002-2 constituted a moderate risk to bulk power system reliability since an improper understanding of a directive could potentially cause a voltage deviation (which would have demanded additional corrective action). The duration of the COM-002-2 violation was from February 10, 2009 through July 29, 2009. In approving the settlement agreement and the penalty determination, NERC considered the fact that the CIP-002-1 violation was the URE's first violation of that Reliability Standard; the COM-002-2 violation was self-reported; the URE was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; the URE had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $35,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: May 27, 2011 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-193-000 (May 26, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: After receiving a self-report of R2 from URE, WECC determined URE had a violation of R2 because it did not use three-part "system normal" communications pertaining to generation, whereby URE system operators verified recipients of directives properly understood the communicated information.

Finding: WECC determined that the violation posed a minimal risk and did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because the three-part system was used by system operators when conducting emergency communications and when communicating sytiching orders. In approving the settlement between URE and WECC, the NERC BOTCC considered the following factors: this violation was URE's first violation of all but one of the Reliability Standards at issue in this NOP; URE self-reported three of the violations; URE was cooperative; URE had a compliance program, which WECC considered a mitigating factor; there was no evidence of an attempt or intent to conceal the violation; WECC determined the all but one of the violations posed a minimal risk, one violation posed a moderate risk, and none posed a serious or substantial risk to the BPS; there were no other aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregated for 5 violations)

FERC Order: Issued June 24, 2011 (no further review)

USACE-Seattle District, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: In July 2008, USACE-Seattle District (USACE-SD) self-certified that it had not documented its voice and data links to address real-time emergency conditions with the appropriate Reliability Coordinators, Balancing Authorities, and Transmission Operators.

Finding: WECC found that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since USACE-SD had actually established communication channels with the appropriate Reliability Coordinators, Balancing Authorities, and Transmission Operators. The violation was primarily a documentation issue and this was USACE-SD's first violation of this Reliability Standard. Even though the mitigation plan was completed over two months late, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

FERC Order: Issued November 13, 2009 (no further review)

Western Electricity Coordinating Council, FERC Docket No. NP11-259-000 (August 11, 2011)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level:

Region: NERC-Compliance Enforcement (NCEA)

Issue: On November 7, 2008, a fire at a key 500 kV line’s series capacitor bank at a substation caused a 500 KV line to undergo a forced scheduled outage, which caused a Category 2 disturbance. This outage caused excess stability and thermal System Operating Limits (SOL) on two Western Interconnection transfer paths, which led to load shedding. In response, California-Mexico Reliability Coordinator (CMRC), one of WECC’s predecessors, issued a directive to a Transmission Operator that did not contain, as required, clear directions for the system to be returned within limits nor did CMRC require the Transmission Operator to repeat back the directive to verify correct understanding.

Finding: NCEA and WECC entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby WECC agreed to pay a penalty of $100,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. NCEA found that the TOP-007-0 violation constituted a moderate risk to bulk power system reliability. The events leading to the load shedding were not related to the Reliability Coordinators’ actions and load would still have needed to be shed even if the Reliability Coordinators took the required actions. But, decisive action by the Reliability Coordinators could have mitigated the results. The COM-002-2 violation occurred on November 7, 2008. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that these were WECC’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards and WECC was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations. In addition, on February 14, 2008, another predecessor to WECC, Pacific Northwest Security Coordinator (PNSC), was involved in a separate event that led to a settlement for violations of, inter alia, Reliability Standards IRO-001-1 R3, IRO-005-1 R8, and COM-002-2 R2. NCEA evaluated the penalty, mitigation actions and preventative measures imposed in that settlement as part of this proceeding. WECC, which assumed the Reliability Coordinator role effective January 1, 2009, is responsible for the violations of its predecessors.

Penalty: $100,000 (aggregate for 4 violations)

FERC Order: Issued September 9, 2011 (no further review)

Western Electricity Coordinating Council, FERC Docket No. NP14-38 (March 31, 2014)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: In August 2013, Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) self-reported that, on three occasions, WECC RC System Operator (RCSO) did not use the required three-part communication when issuing directives related to recovery of Area Control Error (ACE) and to mitigate a System Operating Limit (SOL) exceedance.

Finding: NPCC found that the COM-002-2 violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. For example, RCSO engaged in a discussion of the actions that were being taken to correct the ACE and did not specifically state the location where generation needed to be increased. In another instance, RCSO did not have the recipient operator repeat back the directive as required. But, the risk was mitigated as WECC was actually communicating with the appropriate receiving entities about the relevant events, and there was no adverse impact on BPS reliability. The COM-002-2 violation occurred on June 29, 2013 and July 16, 2013. WECC neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that most of the violations constituted a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability and NPCC concluded that, left unaddressed, the number and type of reliability violations represented a potential for serious risk to the reliable operation of the Western Interconnection. The violations also represented WECC’s second occurrence of violations for Reliability Standards COM-002, TOP-007 and IRO-005 (although it was not evaluated as an aggravating factor since the prior violations involved legacy procedures used by WECC’s predecessor). Ten of the violations were self-reported, which was viewed as a mitigating factor. WECC was also cooperative throughout the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

Total Penalty: $400,000 (aggregate for 19 violations)

FERC Order: Issued August 28, 2014 (no further review)

Western Electricity Coordinating Council, FERC Docket No. NP14-38 (March 31, 2014)

Reliability Standard: COM-002-2

Requirement: 2 (3 violations)

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: During a 2012 compliance audit of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), NPCC determined that, on three separate occasions related to Area Control Error (ACE) directives, WECC Loveland RC (LRCC) did not use the required three-part communication. In April 2013, WECC self-reported that in two additional instances, WECC RC System Operator (RCSO) did not issue directives that were clear, concise and definitive or follow the three-part communication as required. In May 2013, WECC also self-reported that, in another instance, RCSO issued a directive to a recipient operator to mitigate a System Operating Limit (SOL) exceedance that did not specifically direct any particular action or provide needed details regarding the SOL exceedance. RCSO also did not use the required three-part communication.

Finding: NPCC found that the COM-002-2 violations constituted a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability. As LRCC and RCSO did not have the recipient operator repeat back the directives as required, LRCC and RCSO were unaware if the recipient operator actually understood or received the directive, which could have resulted in further delay in the recovery of the ACE or mitigation of the SOL exceedance and significant disruptions to BPS reliability. In addition, one of the directives issued by LRCC was not substantially useful for the recipient operator, which may have caused a negative impact on maintaining reliability. For the directives that were not clear, concise and definitive, RCSO did not provide specific enough information for the recipient operator to understand the actions that needed to be taken. The first COM-002-2 violation occurred on July 9, 2009, September 22, 2009 and August 17, 2011. The second COM-00-2 violation occurred on October 26, 2012 and March 8, 2013. The third COM-002-2 violation occurred on September 19, 2012. WECC neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that most of the violations constituted a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability and NPCC concluded that, left unaddressed, the number and type of reliability violations represented a potential for serious risk to the reliable operation of the Western Interconnection. The violations also represented WECC’s second occurrence of violations for Reliability Standards COM-002, TOP-007 and IRO-005 (although it was not evaluated as an aggravating factor since the prior violations involved legacy procedures used by WECC’s predecessor). Ten of the violations were self-reported, which was viewed as a mitigating factor. WECC was also cooperative throughout the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

Total Penalty: $400,000 (aggregate for 19 violations)

FERC Order: Issued August 28, 2014 (no further review)