NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard FAC-003-1 | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard FAC-003-1

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard FAC-003-1

White & Case NERC Database

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.

Alabama Power Company, FERC Docket NP09-37-000 (September 25, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: Alabama Power self-reported that on July 22, 2007 a short outage of a power line caused by a fast-growing Kudzu weed interfered with the line. The Kudzu had inappropriately been allowed to grow within the required clearance of the line.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Alabama Power had in place a Vegetation Management Plan, Alabama Power had a strong compliance program in place, and it self-reported the violation. SERC also noted that Alabama Power had no prior history of violations.

Penalty: $50,000

FERC Order: Issued October 23, 2009 (no further review)

Allegheny Power, FERC Docket No. NP10-85-000 (March 31, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: Allegheny Power did not include and keep up to date a portion of one element of its transmission vegetation management program (TVMP) involving certain work specifications regarding clearance distances between vegetation and conductors, corrected for altitude for facilities more than 3,000 feet above sea level.

Finding: The violation duration was from June 18, 2007, the date the standard became enforceable, through April 8, 2009, the date that Allegheny Power completed a mitigation plan. Through a settlement agreement, Allegheny Power received a $5,000 aggregate penalty for multiple violations. In assessing the penalty, RFC considered that the violation constituted Allegheny Power's first violation of NERC Reliability Standards, Allegheny Power was cooperative throughout the enforcement process, and Allegheny Power's compliance program promoted a culture of compliance throughout the company. RFC further determined that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because Allegheny Power considered all related operating conditions when planning work and directing vegetation management crew activities.

Penalty: $5,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued April 30, 2010 (no further review)

American Electric Power Service Corp. as agent for Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co., FERC Docket No. NP12-19 (March 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: SPP

Issue: As a result of a Category 1 vegetation outage on its Longwood-SW Shreveport 345 kV transmission line on August 2, 2010, American Electric Power Service Corp. (AEP), as agent for Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co., self-reported that it had not effectively conducted aerial inspections of that transmission line according to its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) and therefore did not identify the particular elm tree that caused the outage for removal.

Finding: SPP found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to the BPS. Although the vegetation contact caused a transmission outage, this transmission outage did not result in a customer outage, property damage, system disturbance or generating capacity loss (as AEP’s protective systems sectionalized the transmission line) and the outage was within AEP’s planned operating conditions. In addition, the line loading was only at 25% capacity and AEP’s system operators did not have to take compensating measures to maintain reliable operations. SPP also found that there was not a systematic problem with AEP’s TVMP and the outage was the result of site-specific conditions. The duration of the violation was from August 2, 2009 (the estimated date when the elm breached AEP’s Clearance 2 distance) through August 6, 2010 (when AEP removed the elm and properly implemented its TVMP). In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that this was AEP’s first violation of the relevant Reliability Standard; the violation was self-reported; AEP was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violation; AEP had a compliance program (which SPP evaluated as a mitigating factor); and the violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Penalty: $90,000

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

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

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 1, 2

Violation Risk Factor: High (1, 2)

Violation Severity Level: Severe (1, 2)

Region: WECC

Issue: AVBA self-reported, as a TO, that it had not implemented a transmission vegetation management program (TVMP), as required, for its one 2.5 mile 500 kV transmission line (1). Thus, Arlington Valley had also not enacted an annual plan for vegetation management work (2).

Finding: WECC found that the FAC-003-1 violations constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. In regards to the FAC-003-1 violations, the lack of a TVMP (and thus proper vegetation clearance around the transmission line) could potentially lead to the loss of Arlington Valley's transmission line as well as its generation resources. But, Arlington Valley's transmission is located in the desert region and has limited, low lying vegetation, with it taking an estimated 15.5 years before the area's vegetation would reach Clearance 1 distances. The duration of the FAC-003-1 violations was from November 5, 2007 through June 10, 2009 (1 and 2). Arlington Valley stipulated to the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC considered the fact that these violations were Arlington Valley's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; the violations were not intentional and were promptly mitigated once discovered; and Arlington Valley was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations. In addition, all but one of Arlington Valley'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)

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP08-33-000 (June 4, 2008)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: SERC

Issue: Auditors found that the documentation and certifications provided at the compliance audit on behalf of Associated Electric's member generation and transmission cooperatives were inadequate evidence of compliance.

Finding: No penalty was appropriate because violation occurred during the transition to mandatory Reliability Standards, and the violation did not put the bulk power system reliability at serious or substantial risk. It was also noted that this was Associated Electric's first violation of the Reliability Standards.

Penalty: $0

FERC Order: 124 FERC ¶ 61,015 (2008); http://www.nerc.com/files/NoticeOfPenaltyOrder.pdf

Baltimore Gas & Electric Company, FERC Docket No. NP08-1-000 (June 4, 2008)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (BG&E) self-reported that it failed to maintain the appropriate clearance between a tree and a conductor in accordance with its Vegetation Management Plan, resulting in a line outage on August 15, 2007.

Finding: The penalty assessed was appropriate because BG&E had a vegetation management plan in place; BG&E was aware of the vegetation at issue but let it remain due to a request from an adjacent homeowner; BG&E self-reported the violation and acted quickly to mitigate the violation.

Penalty: $180,000

FERC Order: 124 FERC ¶ 61,015 (2008); http://www.nerc.com/files/NoticeOfPenaltyOrder.pdf

California Department of Water Resources, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2, R3

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) self-reported that it did not possess an annual implementation plan for its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) for its jointly owned transmission lines and had not yet established a procedure to directly report outages.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not involve a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since CDWR did not have an outage that was caused by the vegetation, and the vegetation that was located in these right-of-ways was already being handled by the other owner of the transmission lines. CDWR self-reported the violations and they were CDWR's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Although the violations initially occurred and were reported before the Reliability Standards became mandatory on June 18, 2007, CDWR did not complete a mitigation plan by then, and thereby these violations also resulted in post-June 18 violations. Even though CDWR completed a mitigation plan late, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

City of Alexandria, FERC Docket No. NP11-133-000 (February 28, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High (R1, R2)

Violation Severity Level: Severe (R1, R2)

Region: SPP

Issue: In July 2010, the City of Alexandria (Alexandria) self-reported that around 1.25 miles of the Rapids to Twin Bridges 230 kV transmission line was not included in its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) (R1). Therefore, Alexandria had not incorporated its transmission line segments into its annual maintenance plan (R2). As Cleo Corporation owns the remainder of the Rapids to Twin Bridges line, Alexandria had not previously been aware that it owned that segment of the transmission line.

Finding: SPP and Alexandria entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the violations. SPP found that the violations posed only a minimal risk to bulk power system reliability since Alexandria had actually been maintaining the transmission right-of-way because it occupied the same right right-of-way as a natural gas line that Alexandria was already maintaining. In addition, there have no been no outages resulting from vegetation since the Reliability Standards came into effect and there are no trees or shrubs growing in the right-of-way. The duration of the violations was from June 18, 2007 through July 13, 2010 (R1) and August 6, 2010 (R2), respectively.

Penalty: $0

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

Cleco Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP11-265-000 (August 31, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.2.1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: During a compliance audit in April 2010, SPP found that Cleco Corporation's (Cleco) Transmission Vegetation Management Plan (TVMP) contained a Clearance 1 distance for its 500 kV transmission lines that was 15 feet (which was only 0.3 feet greater than the established Clearance 2 distance). In addition, Cleco's TVMP did not incorporate local conditions and expected time frames for future vegetation management work.

Finding: SPP and Cleco entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby Cleco agreed to pay a penalty of $27,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. SPP found that the FAC-003-1 violation only constituted a minimal risk to bulk power system reliability since Cleco, by doing a complete clearing of its rights of way, had effectively cleared to a maximum Clearance 1. In addition, Cleco conducts aerial inspections four times a year (including one by helicopter) as supplemented by ground patrols. The duration of the FAC-003-1 violation was from June 18, 2007 through August 3, 2010. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that these were Cleco's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; Cleco was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; Cleco had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor) and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors or other extenuating circumstances.

Penalty: $27,000 (aggregate for 6 violations)

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

Colorado Springs Utilities, FERC Docket No. NP10-190-000 (September 30, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Colorado Springs did not conduct a vegetation management patrol for a transmission line within the time frame required by its vegetation management plan.

Finding: It was determined by WECC that the violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because all but 1.8 miles of the transmission line had been inspected, and the portion not inspected was located in grasslands. The violation took place from July 13, 2007 through June 12, 2008. In determining the penalty amount, WECC also considered that this was Colorado Springs’ first violation of the standard, and that it had self-reported or self-certified 6 of the 9 violations that gave rise to the penalty.

Penalty: $31,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 29, 2010 (no further review)

Commonwealth Edison Company, FERC Docket No. NP10-1-000 (October 2, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) self-reported three transmission outages that occurred on July 6, 2008, July 9, 2008 and July 15, 2008 due to vegetation contact with a line.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because ComEd had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan, and ComEd self-reported the violation. No prior history of violations by ComEd was also a factor.

Penalty: $225,000

FERC Order: Issued October 23, 2009 (no further review)

Crockett Cogeneration, a California Limited Partnership, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: In May 2007, Crockett self-reported that it did not have a Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) and therefore did not have an annual plan to implement the required TVMP as mandated by this Reliability Standard.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not involve a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since Crockett's transmission line only functions as a tie line/interconnect for its plant's generation. Crockett self-reported the violations and they were Crockett's first violations of this Reliability Standard. And although the violations initially occurred and were reported before the Reliability Standards became mandatory on June 18, 2007, Crockett did not complete a mitigation plan by then, and thereby these violations also resulted in post-June 18 violations. Even though Crockett completed a mitigation plan late, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

The Dayton Power and Light Company, FERC Docket No. NP11-78-000 (December 22, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Level 1

Region: RFC

Issue: During a compliance audit, The Dayton Power and Light Company (Dayton) failed to provide auditors with evidence that it kept its formal transmission vegetation management program current because the program did not reference Dayton’s detailed work specifications for vegetation management, and the program did not reference Dayton’s Clearance 2 distances.

Finding: The violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system because Dayton developed, documented and followed work specifications for vegetation management, which were maintained in a separate document. The work specifications were used by contractors hired to perform vegetation management work. Moreover, Dayton included Clearance 2 distances in its program, it just did not clearly label the distance as the Clearance 2 distance. In addition, NERC found that this was Dayton’s first violation of the relevant Reliability Standard; Dayton was cooperative; Dayton had a compliance program, which RFC considered a mitigating factor; there was no evidence of any attempt or intent to conceal a violation; and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors.

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

FERC Order: Issued January 21, 2011 (no further review)

Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP09-3-000 (December 19, 2008)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: Duke self-reported a lock-out outage that occurred on August 22, 2007 due to a substantial growth of vegetation in the right-of-way of the line.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Duke had in place a Vegetation Management Plan, the error was in part related to adjacent homeowner activities near the right-of-way, and Duke self-reported the violation.

Penalty: $50,000

FERC Order: Issued January 16, 2009 (no further review)

Duke Energy Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP10-20-000 (December 30, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: Duke Energy Corporation (Duke) self-reported a transmission outage that occurred on August 8, 2007 due to vegetation contact with the line.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Duke had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan. Duke was given credit for self-reporting the outage and for lack of a prior history of violations.

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

FERC Order: Issued September 30, 2010 (no further review)

Entergy Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP10-22-000 (December 30, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: Entergy self-reported a transmission outage that occurred on June 13, 2008 due to vegetation contact with the line. An underlying issue was that the Entergy Vegetation Management Plan did not require contractors to verify that urgent corrective maintenance work was completed as required.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Entergy had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan. Entergy was given credit for self-reporting the outage and for lack of a prior history of violations.

Penalty: $150,000

FERC Order: Issued January 29, 2010 (no further review)

EP Rock Springs, LLC (Rock Springs), Docket No. NP13-12-000 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 1, 1.3

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: RFC

Issue: While conducting a compliance audit, RFC found that Rock Springs, as a TO, in violation of FAC-003-1, failed to define qualifications and training requirements for personnel directly involved in the design and implementation of its transmission vegetation management program (TVMP).

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose a minimal risk to the reliability of the BPS, but not a serious or substantial risk. Rock Springs did not experience any vegetation-related outages. Further, Rock Springs implemented a TVMP and a transmission right of way, although its procedures did not specify the qualifications and training required for personnel designing and implementing the TVMP. In determining the appropriate penalty, RFC considered Rock Springs’ internal compliance program (ICP), which is managed independently of the departments responsible for ensuring Reliability Standard compliance, as a mitigating factor. Rock Springs’ affiliates also did not have any compliance history of repeat or continuing conduct.

Total Penalty: $30,000 (aggregate for 4 violations)

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

Georgia Power Company, FERC Docket No. NP09-40-000 (September 25, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: Georgia Power self-reported a lock-out outage that occurred on June 11, 2008 due to vegetation contact with the line. Ground and aerial patrols did not immediately identify the specific tree causing the outage.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Georgia Power had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan, its patrols did not identify the vegetation causing the outage immediately, and Georgia Power self-reported the violation. No prior history of violations by Georgia Power was also a factor.

Penalty: $100,000

FERC Order: Issued October 23, 2009 (no further review)

Georgia Power Company (GPC), Docket No. NP12-44-000 (August 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: SERC

Issue: GPC, in its role as a TO, submitted a self-report in December 2011 disclosing that it had not included in its 2011 Annual Work Plan one 230 kV transmission line right-of-way (ROW) for inspection and vegetation management work. Although the particular 230 kV line had been included in previous years' Annual Work Plans, and was inspected and maintained in late 2010, it was dropped from the 2011 Plan because the 2010 Plan mistakenly indicated that the operating voltage of the line had reduced to 115 kV. In November 2011, after realizing the relevant line had been omitted from the 2011 Plan, GPC performed a vegetation management inspection of the line which resulted in no vegetation removal or follow up work required. SERC staff found GPC in violation of the Reliability Standard for its failure to have systems and procedures to document and track vegetation management work and for its failure to guarantee that all required vegetation management work was performed.

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose minimal risk to BPS reliability because the 2010 inspection and maintenance ensured the line's vegetation management met the requirements of the Standard. No vegetation-related outages or issues on the line were reported. In addition, GPC's transmission system is operated consistent with the Reliability Standards, and therefore, the possibility of a vegetation-related outage was considered when establishing operating conditions. In determining the appropriate penalty, SERC considered GPC's internal compliance program (ICP) (GPC uses the ICP of Southern Company, its parent company), the self-report of the violation, and GPC's cooperation during the investigation process as mitigating factors. However, GPC previously violated the FAC-003-1 R2 Reliability Standard (NP09-40) in 2009, which was considered an aggravating factor. GPC admitted to SERC's findings.

Penalty: $15,000

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

Great River Energy, FERC Docket No. NP10-111-000 (June 2, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.5

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: During a compliance audit in January 2009, MRO discovered a potential violation of FAC-003-1 since Great River Energy's (GRE) Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) did not have a documented process to immediately communicate vegetation conditions that were discovered by ground patrols which posed an imminent threat of transmission line outage. GRE did have procedures in place for discoveries made by aerial patrol. In addition, GRE produced documentation showing that ground patrols knew the reporting process for discoveries made by aerial patrols and that the ground patrols were actually reporting imminent threats posed by vegetation conditions.

Finding: MRO and GRE entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby GRE agreed to pay a penalty of $125,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. MRO found that the violation of FAC-003-1 did not create a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since GRE’s field crews were actually reporting cases of imminent threats of vegetation contact (even though the specific processes themselves were not documented). In determining the penalty amount, MRO considered the fact the violations were GRE's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards and GRE was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not attempt to conceal the violations. GRE completed a mitigation plan and has undertaken other efforts to strengthen its compliance program.

Penalty: $125,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued July 2, 2010 (no further review)

Hoosier Energy REC, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP11-190-000 (May 26, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1 and R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe for R1 and Lower for R2

Region: ReliabilityFirst

Issue: During a compliance audit, ReliabilityFirst determined that Hoosier Energy REC, Inc. (Hoosier) failed to include work specifications in its Transmission Vegetation Management Plant (TVMP), did not identify Clearance 1 or Clearance 2 distances in the TVMP, and did not address qualifications for personnel directly involved in the design and implementation of the TVMP, all in violation of R1. Hoosier also failed to include systems and procedures for ensuring that vegetation management work was completed in accordance with its TVMP in effect from 2005 through August 28, 2009. Duration of violation was June 18, 2007 when the standard became mandatory and enforceable through August 28, 2009, when the violation was mitigated.

Finding: ReliabilityFirst determined that the violation posed a minimal risk to the bulk power system because Hoosier did have a TVMP in place that explained when and how vegetation work was to be completed, and it did have evidence indicating that it planned to document and track vegetation work. The NERC BOTCC also considered that the violation constituted Hoosier’s first occurrence of violation of the standards, Hoosier self-reported the PRC-005-1 violation, and Hoosier agreed to take actions that exceed those expected to achieve and maintain baseline compliance.

Penalty: $80,000 (aggregate for 10 violations)

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

Indianapolis Power & Light Company, FERC Docket No. NP11-210-000 (June 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: During a compliance audit in March 2010, RFC found that Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL), as a Transmission Owner, had not sufficiently calculated and documented the Clearance 1 value in its Transmission Vegetation Management Program.

Finding: RFC and IPL entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby IPL agreed to pay a penalty of $70,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. RFC found that the FAC-003-1 violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since IPL was actually leaving large clearances between the vegetation and its bulk electric system equipment throughout the right of way (even though it was not formally documented). In addition, no vegetation contact has occurred with IPL’s transmission lines since the Reliability Standards became mandatory. The duration of the FAC-003-1 violation was from June 18, 2007 through May 13, 2010. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that these were IPL’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; IPL was cooperative during the enforcement proceeding and did not conceal the violations; there was a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $70,000 (aggregate for 11 violations)

FERC Order: Issued July 29, 2011 (no further review)

International Transmission Company d/b/a ITCTransmission Company and Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP09-43-000 (September 25, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.2.2, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: ITC self-reported a transmission line outage that occurred on July 28, 2007 due to vegetation contact with the line. In addition, review of ITC's Vegetation Management Plan indicated it did not include or comply with the minimum clearance requirements.

Finding: Duration of the violation was from June 18, 2007, when the standards became mandatory, until July 28, 2007 when ITC removed the tree causing the outage. Penalty was appropriate because ITC had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but the plan did not include or comply with minimum clearance requirements and ITC had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan. Lack of repetitive violations of the standards by ITC was also a consideration in assessing the penalty.

Penalty: $40,000

FERC Order: Issued October 23, 2009 (no further review)

Kiowa Power Partners, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP10-149-000 (July 30, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: Texas RE

Issue: Kiowa Power Partners, LLC (Kiowa) did not properly maintain vegetation clearance pursuant to its transmission vegetation management program.

Finding: The alleged violation occurred from August 1, 2008, when Kiowa experienced an initial vegetation related outage, until September 12, 2008, when Kiowa completed a mitigation plan. Texas RE imposed a $25,000 penalty for this violation. In assessing the penalty, Texas RE considered these factors: this was Kiowa's first alleged violation of this Reliability Standard; Kiowa cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; Kiowa's compliance program; Kiowa did not attempt to conceal the violation or intend to do so; the alleged violation did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system; there were no aggravating factors that would impact the penalty assessment; and mitigating factors and other considerations for the assessed penalty.

Penalty: $25,000

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

Lee County Electric Cooperative, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP11-07-000 (November 5, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.3, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: FRCC

Issue: FRCC determined that Lee County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LCEC), as a Transmission Owner, failed to demonstrate that personnel directly involved in the design and implementation of LCEC’s transmission vegetation management program (TVMP) hold the appropriate qualifications and training, as defined by LCEC, to perform their duties. FRCC also determined that LCEC, as a Transmission Owner, failed to ensure that it had systems and procedures for documenting and tracking planned vegetation management work and that it had properly documented that vegetation management work was completed in accordance with work specifications.

Finding: FRCC imposed a $30,000 penalty for these and other violations. FRCC determined that the violation of FAC-003-1 R1.3 did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system (BPS) because although the LCEC Supervisor (Vegetation Management) did not have the required degree and experience in managing line construction personnel, the individual held a Bachelor of Arts degree and had multiple years of supervisory experience, including field experience with the entity. FRCC also determined that the violation of FAC-003-1 R2 did not create a serious or substantial risk to the BPS because although LCEC's systems and procedures for documenting and tracking the planned vegetation management work fell short of the subject Standard requirement, LCEC was doing follow up even though it was not done not on a consistent basis. In assessing the penalty, FRCC considered the following facts: the violations constituted LCEC's first violations of the subject NERC Reliability Standards; the violations were self-reported; LCEC cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; LCEC's compliance program; LCEC did not attempt to conceal a violation or intend to do so and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances.

Penalty: $30,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

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

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: LES' Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) did not consider expected growth rate of vegetation or the time required to obtain permission to conduct vegetation management activities. LES also failed to document the required bi-monthly aerial patrols to be performed according to the TVMP.

Finding: The first violation occurred from June 18, 2007 when the standard became effective through March 27, 2008. The second violation occurred from March 27, 2008 through July 13, 2008. In assessing a penalty for aggregate violations, MRO considered (1) LES' cooperation during the audit and immediate corrective measures taken in response to the alleged violations; and (2) the alleged violations of FAC-003-1 were related to documentation and did not put the bulk power system reliability at serious or substantial risk.

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

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

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Docket No. NP12-40 (July 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1/1.2.1/1.2.2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: WECC

Issue: WECC found that LADWP, as a TO, was in violation of FAC-003-1 R1 because LADWP defined Clearance 1 (R1.2.1) and Clearance 2 (R1.2.2) distances inconsistently between the Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) and the Transmission Line Vegetation Management Work Plan 2010. During an on-site Compliance Audit, WECC reviewed LADWP’s TVMP among other documents, and discovered the TVMP listed the clearance as 15 feet whereas the Transmission Line Vegetation Management Work Plan from 2010 set the distance as 30 feet. LADWP responded to the WECC data request regarding the discrepancy explaining it was based on accidental adoption of wording from an old contract, but that LADWP personnel and contractors responsible for implementing the annual TVMP work plan knew and applied the appropriate clearances. In support of its explanation, LADWP provided its LADWP Transmission Line Vegetation Management Record with a final inspection date of February 17, 2010. Nevertheless, WECC determined this document did not demonstrate compliance with R1.2.1 or R1.2.2 and held that LADWP inconsistently defined the minimum clearance distances. The duration of the violation was from March 12, 2010 to March 8, 2011.

Finding: This violation posed only a minimal risk to BPS reliability because the violation is primarily a documentation error. Although LADWP submitted documentation demonstrating the Clearance 1 and Clearance 2 distances were defined inconsistently, in practice LADWP inspects its transmission lines using a radial Clearance 2 distance greater than the minimum distance approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to prevent flashover under all rated operating conditions. Further, LADWP trimmed or removed vegetation to the greatest Clearance 1 distance specified in its TVMP. Consequently, LADWP established its clearance distances within general utility practices and implemented its vegetation management program using such utility practices. LADWP agreed/stipulated to WECC’s findings. WECC considered LADWP’s internal compliance program as a mitigating factor.

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

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

Lubbock Power and Light, Docket No. NP11-270 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: During a compliance audit, SPP determined that Lubbock Power and Light’s (Lubbock) transmission vegetation management program was deficient because its requirement to “[r]eport all vegetation related outages as soon as possible” was insufficient to ensure immediate reporting of vegetation conditions that present an imminent threat of a transmission line outage.

Finding: SPP determined that the violation posed a minimal risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk, to the reliability of the BPS because Lubbock only has approximately 9 miles of 230 kV line which are foot patrolled annually and the geographic proximity of the transmission line to the centralized control center decreased the likelihood that proper personnel would not receive notice of an imminent outage. The violation lasted from January 1, 2009 to October 27, 2010.

Penalty: $14,000 (aggregate for 8 violations)

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

Metropolitan Edison Company, Docket No. NP11-267-000 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: A citizen reported a flashover event near transmission lines later found to be owned by Metropolitan Edison Company (MetEd). MetEd self-reported the event. RFC determined that MetEd was in violation of the Standard because its independent contractor performed vegetation management in a manner inconsistent with MetEd's TVMP; MetEd's forestry specialist employee failed to perform according to the TVMP; MetEd had knowledge of the independent contractor's failure to perform the vegetation management work in accordance with MetEd's TVMP; and MetEd's training program did not include a formal and documented procedure to demonstrate and evaluate the proficiency of its forestry specialists and designated contract personnel.

Finding: RFC determined that the violation constituted a serious risk to the BPS because faulty vegetation management risks sustained transmission outages that could cause or contribute to BPS instability, separation or a cascading sequence of failures. Duration of violation was from June 15, 2010 through June 16, 2010 when MetEd completed clearing vegetation growth below the transmission lines in question. RFC took the following aggravating factors into consideration in reaching a penalty assessment: (1) there was a two-month delay from the date of the flashover event to MetEd's self-report; (2) MetEd knew that its contractor failed to properly implement its TVMP prior to the flashover event but did not correct the problem before the event occurred. RFC took the following mitigating factors into consideration: (1) MetEd self-reported the violation (although reduced credit was given due to the delay in self-reporting); (2) MetEd's internal compliance program (although reduced credit was given due to the delay in self-reporting); and (3) MetEd adopted new technologies and procedures for future vegetation management that are above and beyond that required for maintaining compliance with the reliability standards, such as committing to use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to model the transmission system and analyze field conditions.

Penalty: $650,000

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

MidAmerican Energy Company, FERC Docket No. NP08-2-000 (June 4, 2008)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican) self-reported its failure to maintain the appropriate clearance between a tree and a conductor in accordance with its Vegetation Management Plan, resulting in a line outage on September 21, 2007.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because vegetation not maintained in accordance with MidAmerican's Vegetation Management Plan; MidAmerican had a vegetation management plan in place and it acted quickly to mitigate the violation; and MidAmerican self-reported the violation.

Penalty: $75,000

FERC Order: 124 FERC ¶ 61,015 (2008); http://www.nerc.com/files/NoticeOfPenaltyOrder.pdf

Milford Wind Corridor Phase I, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP13-40 (June 27, 2013)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 1, 2

Violation Risk Factor: High (1, 2)

Violation Severity Level: Severe (1, 2)

Region: WECC

Issue: Milford Wind Corridor Phase I, LLC (Milford Wind) self-certified that it did not develop (and keep up to date) a formal Transmission Vegetation Management Plan (1), nor did it implement an annual plan for vegetation management work (2).

Finding: WECC found that the FAC-003-1 violations only constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability since Milford Wind is located in a desert region where vegetation growth typically does not reach the transmission lines. Vegetation-related outages in desert regions are unlikely and rare occurrences. Milford Wind’s output is not baseload generation, and if Milford Wind was unable to deliver its generation, the host BA would be able to find replacement generation without there being an adverse impact on BPS reliability. Milford Wind’s generation is non-firm and intermittent, and thus its transmission facilities are limited in use. Milford Wind’s transmission line is radial in nature and is only used to connect Milford Wind’s generation to the bulk power system. The FAC-003-1 violations occurred from May 18, 2010 through April 25, 2012. Milford neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that these violations were Milford Wind’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standard and that Milford Wind had a compliance program in place. Milford Wind was also cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

Total Penalty: $81,000 (aggregate for 15 violations)

FERC Order: Issued July 26, 2013 (no further review)

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

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.5

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: MRO determined that Minnesota Power (Allete, Inc.) (MP), as a Transmission Owner, did not document a process for the immediate communication of vegetation conditions that present an imminent threat of a transmission line outage.

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 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: $62,500 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

Mississippi Delta Energy Agency, FERC Docket No. NP11-65-000 (December 22, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High (for R1, R2)

Violation Severity Level: Severe (for R1, R2)

Region: SPP

Issue: In August 2009, the Mississippi Delta Energy Agency (MDEA) self-reported that, as a Transmission Owner, it did not possess a documented transmission vegetation management program nor a documented annual plan for vegetation management work as mandated by the Reliability Standard.

Finding: SPP and MDEA entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby MDEA agreed to pay a penalty of $9,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures to resolve multiple violations. SPP found that the FAC-003-1 violations did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since MDEA’s 23-mile transmission line was actually being inspected approximately monthly in order to check for observable risk of contact or flashover between the transmission line and vegetation. In addition, MDEA’s transmission line has not suffered any outages or flashovers due to vegetation, and MDEA had been conducting tree-trimming and doing other vegetation clearance as needed. The duration of the FAC-003-1 violations was from August 24, 2007 through December 16, 2009. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC considered the fact that these violations were MDEA’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; the violations were self-reported; MDEA was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not attempt to conceal the violations; there was a compliance program in place (even though this was only considered a neutral factor); and there were no additional mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $9,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued January 21, 2011 (no further review)

Montana-Dakota Utilities Company, FERC Docket No. NP11-113-000 (February 23, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: In June 2010, Montana-Dakota Utilities Company (MDU), as a Transmission Owner, self-reported that it had not enacted its annual vegetation management plan on 5 (out of its 11) high voltage transmission lines.

Finding: MDU agreed to pay a penalty of $45,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures to resolve the violation. MRO found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to bulk power system reliability since MDU did not perform the required annual inspections for certain transmission lines in 2007 and 2009. But, MDU had performed all of the required inspections in 2008 and 2010, and in 2007 and 2009, had performed annual inspections for 7 (out of 11) transmission lines. The duration of the violation was from June 18, 2007 through March 12, 2010. In approving the penalty assessment, NERC found that this was MDU's first violation of this Reliability Standard; the violation was self-reported; MDU was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violation; and there were no additional mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $45,000

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

Nebraska Public Power District, FERC Docket No. NP10-39-000 (February 1, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) self-reported non-compliance with this standard on April 4, 2009 when it experienced an outage on a 345 kV line during a winter storm. No load was lost or shed due to the event, but later assessment of the incident indicated that the outage was partly due to a vegetation contact.

Finding: Duration of the violation was from April 4, 2009 through May 13, 2009. Penalty was appropriate because NPPD self-reported the violation of FAC-003-1, these were NPPD's first violations, and the violation did not pose a serious risk to bulk power system reliability due to the light line-loading at the time of the violation.

Penalty: $70,500 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

New York State Electric & Gas Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP10-48-000 (February 1, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: NPCC

Issue: New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) reported a transmission outage that occurred on April 18, 2008 and self-reported a second outage on July 11, 2008, both due to vegetation contact with the lines.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because NYSEG had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan. NYSEG was given credit for self-reporting the second outage and for lack of a prior history of violations.

Penalty: $250,000

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

NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, Docket No. NP10-75-000 (March 31, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: No Serious or Substantial Risk to the Bulk Power System

Region: WECC

Issue: In September 2008, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (FPLE) self-reported possible violations of Reliability Standard FAC-003-1 R1 and R2 due to its failure to have a Transmission Vegetation Management Plan (TVMP) or an annual plan for vegetation management for a transmission line. No outages occurred during the time when there was not a TVMP in place for the transmission line.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since no load is served by this transmission line and there is only one interconnection point with the bulk power system. Also, the transmission line transmits wind generation (a potential of 381 MW) and is located in the high-desert, where it is rare to have an outage caused by vegetation. Therefore, even if there was a vegetation-related outage, it would have a negligible impact on the interconnection. In assessing the penalty, WECC considered the fact that the violations were self-reported; these were FPLE's first violations of this Reliability Standard; and FPLE was cooperative during the compliance process and did not attempt to conceal the violations. FPLE has successfully completed mitigation plans for its violations of Reliability Standard FAC-003-1.

Penalty: $30,000

FERC Order: Issued April 30, 2010 (no further review)

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

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High (for R1, R2)

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: NorthWestern Corporation (NorthWestern) self-certified that its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) did not include vegetation management work specifications and did not define Clearance 1. NorthWestern also could not prove that its personnel directly involved in the design and implementation of the TVMP had the required qualifications or training. In addition, NorthWestern was unable to produce documentation showing that it had implemented an annual plan for vegetation management work during 2007.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since NorthWestern had actually been managing the vegetation growth in its Rights of Way in order to maintain reliability (even though its TVMP did not meet all of the requirements of FAC-003-1). These were NorthWestern's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Even though the violations occurred before the Reliability Standards became mandatory, NorthWestern did not complete its mitigation plan in a timely manner, turning the violations into post-June 18, 2007 violations. Despite the late completion of the mitigation plan, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

Orlando Utilities Commission, FERC Docket No. NP10-161-000 (September 30, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.3

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: FRCC

Issue: Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) did not define the appropriate qualifications and training for all personnel directly involved in the design and implementation of its Transmission Vegetation Management Program.

Finding: The violation occurred between June 18, 2007, when the Standard became mandatory and enforceable and May 1, 2009. FRCC imposed a $60,500 penalty for this and other violations. In assessing the penalty, FRCC determined that the alleged violation did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because OUC’s employees held qualifications which met the requirements established by OUC.

Penalty: $60,500 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued October 29, 2010

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, FERC Docket No. NP09-35-000 (July 31, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: On June 5, 2008, a stalk of a century plant grew into a power line causing it to fluctuate in and out of service (thus not a "sustained" outage and no customers lost service).

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) had a Vegetation Management Plan in place and the century plant grew at an unprecedented rate into the power line. Also, PG&E was given credit for the self-report, and the fact that there were no prior instances of encroachment on PG&E's lines by this type of plant.

Penalty: $100,000

FERC Order: Issued August 26, 2009 (no further review)

PPL Electric Utilities Corporation, FERC Docket No. NP10-71-000 (March 31, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: RFC

Issue: In 2007, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (PPL EU) self-reported a possible violation of Reliability Standard FAC-003-1 R2 because of vegetation contact on a 500 kV transmission line that was discovered after a momentary outage on August 8, 2007. In June 2009, PPL EU self-reported an additional violation of Reliability Standard FAC-003-1 R2 because of vegetation encroachments on a 230 kV transmission line.

Finding: RFC and PPL EU entered into a Settlement Agreement to resolve all outstanding issues concerning numerous alleged violations, whereby PPL EU neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations but agreed to a penalty of $290,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. The bulk of the penalty is the result of the two alleged violations of FAC-003-1 R2. In terms of the first self-reported violation of FAC-003-1 R2 in 2007, RFC initially did not assess a penalty against PPL EU, but the NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee remanded the Notice of Confirmed Violation back to RFC for further proceedings and to impose a financial penalty on PPL EU. RFC determined that the alleged violation created a substantial risk to the bulk power system since at the time of the momentary vegetation contact, the bulk power system was already operating under stressed conditions (as evidenced by PJM having to implement a mandatory voltage reduction and to load the available "Maximum Energy Generation" facilities). In terms of the second self-reported violation of FAC-003-1 R2, RFC found that PPL EU had failed to effectively establish a Transmission Vegetation Management Plan (TVMP) that factored in anticipated and actual growth of vegetation inside the right-of-ways in order to maintain clearances to conductors. RFC determined that the second alleged violation posed a moderate to high risk to the bulk power system (as opposed to a serious or substantial risk) since PPL EU operates its bulk power system facilities to first contingency limits, so if the 230 kV transmission line had tripped, the rest of the system would still have remained stable. In assessing the penalty, RFC sought to deter future violations of FAC-003-1 and to emphasize the need for a comprehensive TVMP. RFC also considered other penalties for similar violations of this Reliability Standard; the fact that PPL EU had repeated violations of a critical Reliability Standard; there was likely a problem with the implementation of PPL EU's TVMP; and that there was a significant delay between when the vegetation encroachment was confirmed and when it was self-reported. PPL EU also committed to investigate and share its experience with using Light Detection and Ranging technology in its TVMP. PPL EU has already completed mitigation plans for the two alleged violations of FAC-003-1 R2.

Penalty: $290,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued April 30, 2010 (no further review)

Public Utility District No. 1 of Lewis County, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High (for R1, R2)

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Public Utility District No. 1 of Lewis County (LCPD) self-reported that the documentation for the implementation of its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) did not identify the clearances, as required. In addition, LCPD was unable to produce documentation showing that it had implemented an annual plan for vegetation management work during 2007.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since LCPD did actually have a TVMP in place and had been actively managing its 230 kV transmission corridor (through hydro-axing most of its Rights of Way). The violations were self-reported and these were LCPD's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Even though the violations occurred before the Reliability Standards became mandatory, LCPD did not complete its mitigation plan in a timely manner, turning the violations into post-June 18, 2007 violations. Even with the late completion of the mitigation plan, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

Puget Sound Energy, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP10-37-000 (February 1, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R1.3

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Puget Sound failed to provide evidence that it had trained its employees and contractors with regard to all its vegetation management procedures and manuals.

Finding: Duration of the violation was from June 18, 2007, when standard became enforceable, through December 21, 2007. Penalty was determined appropriate because this was Puget Sound's first violation of the standard, its internal compliance program was well-documented and its training processes were generally sufficient in other areas.

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

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

Sacramento Municipal Utility District, FERC Docket No. NP10-29-000 (December 30, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: SMUD failed to identify its Clearance 1 specifications in its transmission vegetation management program, and its vegetation management supervisor could not clearly articulate the Clearance 1 specification or reference a document that describes it.

Finding: Duration of violation was from June 18, 2007, when the standard became enforceable, through April 30, 2008. WECC determined the penalty justified because (1) the violation involved documentation failure only; (2) this was SMUD's first violation of this standard; and (3) there was no evidence SMUD attempted to conceal the violation.

Penalty: $65,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued January 29, 2010 (no further review)

Seattle City Light (SCL), FERC Docket No. NP15-16-000 (December 30, 2014)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: SCL self-reported that during an annual inspection at the Boundary Hydroelectric Generation Project (Boundary Project) it determined it had not maintained a minimum clearance between the vegetation and the transmission lines as required. On July 1-3, in accordance with its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP), SCL's vegetation management crew conducted its annual review of the transmission ROW. On July 2, the Boundary Project hydro operator received a report of an arcing line in the transmission ROW yet, staff found no signs of vegetation contacting the transmission lines and no recloser/relay occurred on the lines. On July 3, the Boundary Project manager relayed the July 2nd arcing line report to the crew chief, who surveyed the area and found scorch marks and split bark indicating a possible flash over had occurred in the transmission ROW. In reviewing SCL's self-report, WECC determined that SCL crew used unreliable methods (binoculars and their naked eye) to determine if the vegetation in the transmission ROW was clear of the transmission lines.

Finding: WECC determined that the violation posed only a minimal risk to the BPS reliability as SCL regularly monitored the status of the lines and had processes in place for informing vegetation management when a fault on the lines occurred. In addition, had vegetation caused a trip in the line, operators would have been alerted. In addition, SCL's vegetation management quickly took corrective actions once they were informed of the scorch marks. SCL also regularly inspected the transmission ROW vegetation and its vegetation plan, which included preventative measures for limiting vegetation growth and procedures for updating the plan when issues were discovered. Following TOP standards, SCL also performed annual system planning studies, which included various scenarios that could occur on the transmission lines including steps to prepare for and mitigating responses needed to maintain system stability. To date, there were no issues at the Boundary Project in the system planning studies. SCL neither admitted nor denied the violation. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC considered that SCL did have a compliance program in place and agreed to additional voluntary corrective actions, which WECC considered a mitigating factor. However, WECC considered SCL's violation history an aggravating factor when accessing the penalty. But SCL self-reported the violation, which was only a minimal risk to the BPS and agreed to provide WECC a written report of the steps they intended to take to further their compliance with the standard. SCL was cooperative throughout the compliance enforcement process and did not attempt to conceal the violation.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregate for 1 violation)

FERC Order: Pending

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, FERC Docket No. NP10-112-000 (June 2, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1.5

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: MRO

Issue: During a compliance audit in February 2009, MRO discovered a potential violation of FAC-003-1 since the previous version of Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency's (SMMPA) Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) (which was in effect from June 18, 2007 through January 31, 2009) did not have a process in place for field crews, whether through normal work routings or when performing ground patrols, to communicate imminent threats of vegetation contact. SMMPA's current TVMP met the requirements of FAC-003-1 and SSMPA had also entered into an operations and maintenance service contract with another Registered Entity for that entity to perform the vegetation management on the relevant transmission line. In addition, SMMPA was able to produce documentation showing that its ground crews were actually reporting imminent threats of vegetation contact.

Finding: MRO and SMMPA entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby SMMPA agreed to undertake mitigation measures and no penalty was imposed. MRO found that this violation of FAC-003-1 did not create a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since SSMPA's ground crews were actually reporting and correcting imminent threats of vegetation contact that they discovered. In addition, this was primarily a documentation issue. In deciding not to impose a penalty, MRO considered the fact that these violations were SMMPA's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards and SMMPA was cooperative through the compliance process and did not attempt to conceal the violations. SMMPA has completed a mitigation plan for the violation of FAC-003-1 and has undertaken other efforts to strength its compliance program.

Penalty: $0

FERC Order: Issued July 2, 2010 (no further review)

Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, Docket No. NP12-21, March 30, 2012

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 1, 2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe (R1), High (R2)

Region: SPP

Issue: Following a self-report submitted by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (“Sunflower”) on January 14, 2011, SPP determined that Sunflower violated R1 and R2. Specifically, Sunflower’s Transmission Vegetation Management Program (“TVMP”) did not meet the requirements of R1 that it include a written provision stating that vegetation inspections are based upon anticipated growth and environmental or operational factors that may impact how vegetation in the vicinity of the transmission lines are managed. The TVMP also failed to meet the requirements of R2 because it did not include specific procedures for documenting and tracking the planned vegetation management work to ensure that all vegetation management was performed as planned.

Finding: SPP determined that the violations posed a minimal risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because Sunflower provided SPP with evidence that it was performing vegetation inspections for all transmission lines of 69 kV, and was scheduling maintenance on an annual basis. In addition, Sunflower’s transmission lines are located in grassland where there is very little vegetation and there is very little risk that vegetation would reach a height between annual patrols that could interfere with the operation of the lines. Moreover, Sunflower had not experienced any actual vegetation related outages or flashovers. SPP found the duration of the violations was from June 18, 2007 to October 21, 2010.

Penalty: $135,000 (aggregate for 16 violations)

FERC Order: Order Issued April 30, 2012 (no further action)

Tennessee Valley Authority, Docket No. NP12-34-000 (June 29, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SERC

Issue: A vegetation contact interruption occurred on a 500 kV line owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) on August 9, 2010, which resulted in a sustained outage of the line but did not result in any service interruptions. TVA notified SERC of the incident on August 10, 2010, and subsequently submitted a self-report on August 11, 2010. After an investigation into the incident, SERC determined the likely cause of the interruption was a 37-foot tall willow tree growing in a wetland portion of the line’s right of way that made contact with the line. Although SERC found that TVA followed its Vegetation Management Plan (“VMP”), which called for a three-year floor clearing cycle and annual aerial inspections of lines, SERC determined TVA had a violation of R2 because the outage indicated TVA’s VMP was insufficient to ensure the reliability of its transmission system. Specifically, SERC found that the VMP was not flexible enough to address environmental factors, such as the accelerated growth of the willow tree in wetland conditions. The duration of the violation was from August 9, 2010 to October 1, 2010, when TVA completed its Mitigation Plan.

Finding: SERC determined that the violation posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the BPS because the VMP failed to prevent the sustained outage of the 500 kV line. The violation was mitigated, however, by the following factors: the line loading was minimal and no system reconfiguration was necessary to continue reliable operations; there were no IROL violations, generation re-dispatches, reductions of generation reserves, system-wide disturbances, or service disruptions; the vegetation contact was within TVA’s planned operating conditions consistent with the Reliability Standards; and TVA found no other similar encroachments upon subsequent inspection.

Penalty: $175,000

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

TransAlta Centralia Generation, LLC, Docket No. NP12-39 (July 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: TransAlta Centralia Generation, LLC (TACG) self-certified a violation of R2 because vegetation management inspections were not conducted per the requirement in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Specifically, although TACG had a contractual agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) pursuant to which BPA agreed to maintain and operate the transmission lines at issue, BPA informed TACG on January 11, 2011 that the lines had not been properly inspected until January 6, 2011 because BPA’s internal processes mistakenly indicated the lines had been inspected. WECC determined the duration of the violation was from April 29, 2008 to May 5, 2011, when TACG completed its Mitigation Plan.

Finding: WECC determined that the violation posed a moderate risk, and did not pose a serious or substantial risk, to the reliability of the BPS. The risk that undetected vegetation could cause an outage was mitigated by the short length of the lines (totaling 1.55 miles), the lack of any significant tree growth in the terrain under the lines, and the fact that the lines were readily visible to TACG employees as they traveled to and from the plant.

Penalty: $55,000

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

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

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: TID self-reported a fault on one of its 230 kV lines due to vegetation contact that caused TID and a nearby utility to shed firm load on August 29, 2007. In violation of TID's Transmission Vegetation Management Program establishing a maximum tree height of 17 feet, a 25-30-foot tall tree caused the outage; the tree was also significantly closer to the line than TID's procedures permitted. Duration of the violation was from June 18, 2007, when the standard became enforceable, through September 14, 2007.

Finding: WECC gave consideration to the fact that TID self-reported the violation, but noted that the vegetation-caused outage causing customers to lose service was a significant event that warranted a commensurate penalty. WECC also took note that TID is a small entity with limited financial resources, the violation was TID's first of this requirement, TID provided evidence of a superlative compliance program, and TID management acted swiftly and with substantial disciplinary action as a result of the violation.

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. NP11-1-000 (October 7, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: N/A

Region: WECC

Issue: An Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) self reported a violation in response to a spot check in which WECC determined that the URE had incomplete documentation for its Transmission Vegetation Management Program.

Finding: The violation posed a risk to the reliability of the bulk power system because the URE failed to implement an annual vegetation management plan, did not document adjustments to the plan, and did not have systems or procedures for documenting and tracking the planned vegetation management work. However, the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because the URE performed maintenance on its right-of-way, but lacked documentation to demonstrate compliance.

Penalty: $106,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued November 5, 2010 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-4-000 (October 7, 2010)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: N/A

Region: FRCC

Issue: An Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) self-reported a violation for failing to implement, document, and track a Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) and for failing to maintain clearance distances as specified in its TVMP, leading to an outage caused by vegetation.

Finding: FRCC determined that (1) the URE failed to implement a TVMP effectively because it was inflexible and unable to adjust to changing conditions, (2) the URE did not have adequate procedures for documenting and tracking vegetation management work, and (3) the clearance distances specified in the URE’s TVMP were not maintained. FRCC found the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because the load on the line that was affected by vegetation was switched to an alternate line, the voltage readings in the region surrounding the affected line were within FRCC guidelines following the event, and there were no Interconnection Reliability Operating limit violations, generation re-dispatch, reduction of generation reserves, system-wide disturbances nor interruption of service to any customers.

Penalty: $250,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

FERC Order: Issued November 5, 2010 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-111-000 (February 23, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1/1.5

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: MRO conducted an audit of a Registered Entity in which it determined that the Registered Entity was unable to provide documentation of a Transmission Vegetation Management Program that incorporated a process to immediately communicate imminent threats of vegetation contact, as required.

Finding: MRO and the Registered Entity entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby the Registered Entity agreed to pay a penalty of $120,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures to resolve the multiple violations. In terms of the FAC-003-1 violation, MRO found that the violation only posed a minimal risk to bulk power system reliability since the Registered Entity was still actually reporting and correcting imminent threats of vegetation contact. The duration of the FAC-003-1 violation was from June 18, 2007 through May 15, 2009. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC found that these were the Registered Entity's first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; the Registered Entity was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; the remedies that the Registered Entity adopted in response to the violations were considered a mitigating factor; and there were no additional mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $120,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-127-000 (February 23, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: FRCC

Issue: During a spot check, Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) could not provide evidence that its annual plan for vegetation management work ensured that vegetation management work was completed according to specifications. Duration of violation was from June 18, 2007, when the Standard became enforceable, through June 11, 2009, when the violation was mitigated.

Finding: FRCC Enforcement determined that the violation did not create a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because URE said it performed field verification visits in order to inspect vegetation management work and ensure it was performed to specs, even though these verifications were not documented. Further, the NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee concluded the penalty appropriate because, with one exception, this was URE’s first violation of the Standards, URE self reported several of the violations, numerous violations of a single standard were considered to be four instances of a single violation as opposed to separate violations, and URE was cooperative during the investigation.

Penalty: $55,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-128-000 (February 23, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: Following a compliance audit, WECC determined Unidentified Registered Entity’s (URE) transmission vegetation management program (TMVP) did not define Clearance 1 and Clearance 2 distances, as required by R1.2, and URE did not provide evidence that personnel involved in designing and implementing the TVMP were qualified under URE’s procedures in violation of R1.3.

Finding: WECC Enforcement determined the violation did not pose a serious or substantial threat to the bulk power system because the TVMP identified “Minimum Clearances,” and actively growing vegetation did not pose a serious threat because at most it would most likely only affect URE’s system. In determining the penalty amount, the NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee considered the following factors: this was URE’s first occurrence of this type of violation; URE was cooperative; and the number and nature of the violations.

Penalty: $450,000 (aggregated for multiple violations)

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-137-000 (March 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: URE self-reported that it had implemented an inspection plan in 2006 and 2007 but had not included the inspection plan as part of its transmission vegetation management program (TVMP), so it could not prove that it had followed the TVMP. Moreover, URE did not clearly define Clearance 2 in its TVMP, only referring to “IEEE standard” without any reference to an applicable section or table within the standard. In addition, URE could not prove that its contract personnel had received training on URE’s imminent threat procedures. Duration of violation was June 18, 2007, when the Standard became enforceable, through September 26, 2008, when the violations were mitigated.

Finding: WECC Enforcement determined that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because of the location and size of URE’s facilities, and because vegetation work had actually occurred. Further, the NERC BOTCC concluded the penalty appropriate because this was URE’s first violation of most of the Standards involved, URE self-reported 28 of 30 violations, and URE was cooperative during the investigation.

Penalty: $106,000 (aggregate for 30 violations)

FERC Order: Issued April 29, 2011 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-166-000 (April 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP, TRE

Issue: Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) failed to maintain a documented transmission vegetation management program.

Finding: The NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee (NERC BOTCC) approved a settlement agreement which included a penalty in the amount of $50,000 for this and other violations. In reaching this determination, the NERC BOTCC considered the following facts, among others: the violation constituted URE’s first violation of the subject NERC Reliability Standard; URE self-reported some of the violations; URE cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; URE 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: $50,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-223-000 (June 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: SPP

Issue: SPP determined the Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) did not effectively implement its Transmission Vegetation Management Plan after the URE reported that it had removed vegetation in contact with its 161 kV transmission line in a periodic data submittal.

Finding: SPP assessed a $30,000 penalty for this and other violations. This violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the Bulk Power System because the transmission line at issue is no longer considered a critical transmission facility and the same occurrence today would not be deemed a violation of R2. The NERC BOTCC determined this was URE’s first occurrence of this type of violation; URE was cooperative; there was no evidence of any attempt or intent to conceal a violation; and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $30,000 (aggregate for 3 violations)

FERC Order: Issued July 29, 2011 (no further review)

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP12-20 (March 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R1, R2

Violation Risk Factor: High (R1, R2)

Violation Severity Level: High (R1), Severe (R2)

Region: WECC

Issue: During an audit, WECC found that, at times in the past when the Reliability Standard was in effect, URE did not have a formal Transmission Vegetation Management Program (TVMP) that contained all of the required elements (R1). WECC also determined that URE did not have a published annual vegetation management plan before it issued its TVMP, as required (R2).

Finding: WECC found that the FAC-003-1 violations constituted only a minimal risk to BPS reliability since URE’s service area is in the desert and does not have trees (making the chance of a vegetation outage very low). URE also has a peak demand under 150 MW and has less than 200 miles of 230 kV transmission lines. In addition, URE has enacted a formal TVMP that satisfies the requirements of the Reliability Standard and has also been performing annual reviews of its TVMP. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that these were URE’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; URE was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; and the violations did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Penalty: $60,000 (aggregate for 13 violations)

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

Virginia Electric and Power Company, FERC Docket No. NP09-41-000 (September 25, 2009)

Reliability Standard: FAC-003-1

Requirement: R2 s

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: Virginia Electric and Power Co. (VEPCo) self-reported a transmission outage that occurred on June 6, 2008 due to a tree contact with the line.

Finding: Penalty was appropriate because VEPCo had in place a Vegetation Management Plan but had not kept vegetation cleared in compliance with that plan and VEPCo self-reported the violation. A lack of prior history of violations by VEPCo was also a factor.

Penalty: $100,000

FERC Order: Issued October 23, 2009 (no further review)