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

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-002-2a

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Entergy, FERC Docket No. NP14-36-000 (March 31, 2014)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: R4

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Moderate

Region: SERC

Issue: During a compliance investigation related to a December 27, 2010 load shed event in the Acadiana Load Pocket, SERC determined that Entergy, as a BA and TOP, did not sufficiently coordinate its current-day planning and operations with its neighboring BAs and TOPs and its RC. On December 27, 2010, although there was a change in system conditions (with load on the system higher than forecasted) and the RC had issued a Transmission Loading Relief to address a contingency related to the load pocket, Entergy proceeded to remove (a previously approved) a transmission line from service without reconfirming the outage with the RC.

Finding: SERC found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since the outage could have created an overload condition on other lines and delayed mitigating actions related to the post contingency. However, the RC had approved the planned outage a week earlier to begin on December 27, 2010 and would have evaluated the outage in its Real-Time Contingency Analysis for the day. In addition, the RC has continuous access to Entergy’s model to assist with ensuring reliable operations. Entergy neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC found that the violations constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability, and not a serious or substantial risk. Entergy violated the same Reliability Standards in the past, but this compliance history was not considered to be an aggravating factor. But, the violations occurred while the system was stressed, which was viewed as an aggravating factor even though the violations did not contribute to the load loss. Entergy did have an internal compliance program in place, which was evaluated as a mitigating factor. Entergy also cooperated throughout the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

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

FERC Order: Issued April 30, 2014 (no further review)

Entergy, FERC Docket No. NP14-36-000 (March 31, 2014)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: R11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SERC

Issue: During a compliance investigation related to a December 27, 2010 load shed event in the Acadiana Load Pocket, SERC determined that Entergy did not properly update its next-day Bulk Electric System studies to reflect current system conditions after the RC informed Entergy that current load was above the load forecasted in the next-day study and there was a significant difference (as much as fifteen degrees) between the forecasted and actual temperatures.

Finding: SERC found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since, by failing to update its next-day analyses with current system conditions, Entergy risked implementing incorrect contingency plans in response to a system event and committing insufficient generation. However, it was determined that Entergy’s contingency plans remained correct. Entergy neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC found that the violations constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability, and not a serious or substantial risk. Entergy violated the same Reliability Standards in the past, but this compliance history was not considered to be an aggravating factor. But, the violations occurred while the system was stressed, which was viewed as an aggravating factor even though the violations did not contribute to the load loss. Entergy did have an internal compliance program in place, which was evaluated as a mitigating factor. Entergy also cooperated throughout the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations.

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

FERC Order: Issued April 30, 2014 (no further review)

Hetch Hetchy Water and Power (HHWP), Docket No. NP12-47-000 (September 28, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: HHWP self-reported in July 2011 that it had not complied with the requirement of TOP-002-2a R1 in that, as a TOP, it did not document a plan for the purpose of ensuring continued, reliable system operation through a "reasonable future time period." WECC reviewed HHWP's self-report and concluded that HHWP was in violation of the Standard for not creating a set of plans that would evaluate options and set procedures for reliable operation through a reasonable future time period. HHWP is required to use available personnel and system equipment to implement the plans to ensure that interconnected system reliability will be maintained, which had not been done.

Finding: The violation was deemed to pose minimal risk to BPS reliability because HHWP does have existing operations plans and procedures to maintain reliable system operations, and those plans include responding to unanticipated events. HHWP performed the duties that would have been addressed in documented operations plans, but HHWP did not have any such plans in writing. In determining the appropriate penalty, WECC gave no credit for the self-report; however, HHWP's internal compliance program was considered a mitigating factor. HHWP agreed/stipulated to WECC's finding.

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

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

Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCP&L), Docket No. NP13-12-000 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: SPP RE

Issue: KCP&L, as a TOP, self-reported violations of TOP-002-2 R11 as it could not determine whether next-day and current-day System Operating Limit (SOL) contingency studies supplied by SPP RC had taken place under normal system conditions, because KCP&L failed to required operators to log contingency reviews where system conditions had not significantly changed. Moreover, KCP&L did not have an agreement with the SPP RC that provided for the continuous delivery of these contingency studies.

Finding: SPP RE determined that this issue posed a minimal risk to BPS reliability and not a serious or substantial risk, because the violation was documentary in nature. Although KCP&L did not have procedures requiring contingency reviews during normal states, it did have in place procedures to ensure such reviews took place under non-normal conditions that might affect SOL projections. Moreover, studies were delivered between KCP&L and SPP RC, even without a formal agreement providing for such studies. In determining the appropriate penalty, SPP RE considered KCP&L’s internal compliance program (ICP) as a mitigating factor.

Total Penalty: $0 (aggregate 2 violations)

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

KCPL Greater Missouri Operations (GMO), Docket No. NP13-12-000 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: SPP RE

Issue: GMO, as a TOP, self-reported violations of TOP-002-2a R11 that resulted from its inability to determine whether next-day and current-day System Operating Limit (SOL) contingency studies supplied by SPP RC had taken place under normal system conditions, because GMO failed to require operators to log contingency reviews where system conditions had not significantly changed. Moreover, GMO did not have an agreement with the SPP RC that provided for the continuous delivery of these contingency studies.

Finding: SPP RE determined that this issue posed a minimal risk to BPS reliability and not a serious or substantial risk, because the violation was documentary in nature. Although GMO did not have procedures requiring contingency reviews during normal states, it did have in place procedures to ensure such reviews took place under non-normal conditions that might affect SOL projections. Moreover, studies were delivered between GMO and SPP RC, even without a formal agreement providing for such studies. In determining the appropriate penalty, SPP RE considered GMO’s internal compliance program as a mitigating factor.

Total Penalty: $0 (aggregate for 2 violations)

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

LG&E and KU Services Company as agent for Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, Docket No. NP12-33 -000 (June 29, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: R16

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SERC

Issue: LG&E and KU Services Company as agent for Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company (“LG&E & KU”) self-reported that, in its role as a TOP, it failed to promptly notify its Reliability Coordinator (“RC”) of a change to a transformer rating. Specifically, during the construction of a new 138 kV Middletown-Collins transmission line, LG&E & KU updated its Facility Rating Program, which resulted in an unplanned reduction in the Facility Rating of a transformer associated with the project. The re-rating of the transformer was not immediately communicated to the RC, which caused a discrepancy between LG&E & KU’s contingency analysis (“CA”) model and its RC’s CA. LG&E & KU did not immediately notify its RC of the problem, but rather conducted a technical review in order to determine how to eliminate the discrepancy by increasing the rating of the transformer, and found that it could remedy the exceedence before the next day’s heavy load hours. LG&E & KU requested from the RC an emergency overnight outage to perform the necessary work, and once completed, entered the new transformer rating in both KG&E & KU’s CA model and the RC’s CA model. SERC determined the duration of the violation was from May 27, 2010, the date the transformer rating was changed, to July 23, 2010, the date LG&E & KU notified its RC of the new rating.

Finding: SERC determined the violation posed a moderate risk and did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because although there was a risk that the rating of the transformer at issue could be exceeded in the event of a specific contingency, no actual real-time overloading occurred. Moreover, LG&E & KU had operating procedures in place and adequately experienced operators to react in the event such a contingency occurred.

Penalty: $75,000 (aggregate for 7 violations)

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

Mirant Canal, FERC Docket No. NP11-266-000 (August 31, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: R14.1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: Mirant Canal self-certified that it did not notify the Balancing Authority of the unavailability of a unit of its generating facility until about 4.5 hours after the outage began due to delays in determining the problem at the unit caused by a substantial snow storm.

Finding: NPCC found that the violation did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system because during the period the unit was unavailable, it was on a reserve shutdown and was not requested to come on line by the Balancing Authority or Transmission Operator during the outage. Duration of violation was January 20, 2009.

Penalty: $0

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

ReEnergy Sterling CT Limited Partnership (RES); formerly Exeter Energy Limited Partnership (Exeter), Docket No. NP12-40 (July 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: R3, R13

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: A complaint was filed with the NPCC on November 30, 2010 alleging that Exeter, in its role as a GOP, violated TOP-002-2a R3 by failing to coordinate its next day operations and scheduled plant outage with the BA. The complaint stated that at 16:00 EST on October 23, 2010, Exeter cleared its Host BA day-ahead market for October 24, 2010 with a bid of 23 MW beginning at 1:00 EST. The complaint also notes that on October 23, 2010, at 21:22 EST, Exeter’s operator notified the BA that its turbine went out of service at 20:10 EST for a scheduled outage. In a subsequent phone call initiated by the BA, Exeter informed the system operator that its turbine would likely be out of service until the morning of October 26, 2010. During the call it was established that while Exeter had properly taken the turbine out of the day-ahead market during the scheduled outage period, it had failed to properly designate the plant as “Not Available” in the real-time market. In doing so, Exeter failed to (a) properly alert the BA that the plant would unavailable; (b) meet its self-scheduled obligation in the day-ahead market; and (c) give the requisite seven-day notice to the BA that its turbine would be out of service. The duration of the violation was October 24, 2010 through October 26, 2010.

On January 17, 2011, Exeter self-reported a violation of TOP-002-2a R13 in that it failed to conduct and report both required reactive capacity tests requested by the BA. On July 1, 2010, the BA’s manager of system operations sent a letter to CMS ERM requesting them to conduct two tests, the lagging and leading reactive capability tests, on the Exeter plant. The BA requested the lagging test to be completed before September 15, 2010, and the leading test to be completed before October 31, 2010. While CMS ERM was managing the Exeter plant, Exeter remained the registered entity and was accountable for any violations of the NERC Reliability Standards. Consequently, CMS ERM emailed the BA’s request to Exeter, but the message was inadvertently not read by plant personnel and the testing was not performed by the requested dates. On December 16, 2010, the BA notified CMS ERM that in failing to conduct and report either of the two required tests, Exeter violated TOP-002-2a R 13. The duration of the violation was November 1, 2010 through September 9, 2011.

Finding: These violations posed only a minimal risk to BPS reliability. Regarding its failure to coordinate its next-day operations and scheduled plant outage with the BA, the risk was not substantial or serious because the Exeter facility has a maximum capacity of 31 MW compared to the 29,900 MW capacity within the BA area, generally produces at 22 MW, and is connected at a voltage of 115 kV. As a result, the BA did not need to significantly alter its dispatch operating plan because of the Exeter plant’s unavailability and has not made any findings of adverse impact to the BPS. Regarding the failure to conduct and report reactive capacity tests, the violation posed only a minimal risk because the Exeter facility has a name plate rating of 31 MW compared to the 29,900 MW overall capacity within the BA area and is connected at a voltage level of 115 kV. The combination of the small capacity and grid connection allows the Exeter facility to generate or absorb a small amount of reactive power and reduce the risk to the BPS. Additionally, despite not testing its VAR capability and reporting to the BA, the unit was fully capable of delivering reactive power if called upon. RES neither admitted nor denied NPCC’s findings. In determining the appropriate penalty, NPCC considered RES’s internal compliance program. NPCC also noted that RES took ownership of the Exeter facility after notice of the violation and cooperated with the NPCC to conclude the matter.

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

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 2, 11

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (“Sunflower”) self-certified that it was in violation of R2 because it did not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate the communications between planning and operating personnel for all of its system planning studies. Following a compliance audit, SPP found that Sunflower was in violation of R11 because it was not performing current-day and next-day BES studies to determine its System Operating Limits (“SOLs”) per its Transmission Operations Procedure. The Procedure stated that Sunflower would coordinate with SPP to conduct the studies. Instead, Sunflower was relying wholly upon SPP to identify any SOLs. Moreover, Sunflower did not have an agreement with SPP for SPP to perform such studies. Sunflower disputed the alleged violation, but SPP determined Sunflower had provided insufficient evidence that it routinely performed current-day and next-day studies when required, nor could it provide evidence that it conducts a reasonability review to ensure any BES studies reflect existing system conditions.

Finding: SPP determined that the violation of R2 posed a minimal risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because Sunflower provided SPP with emails that demonstrated that its planning engineers routinely communicated with and involved its operations personnel in the system planning and design study process. SPP determined that the violation of R11 posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the BPS because Sunflower did not maintain sufficient evidence to determine its SOLs accurately and therefore could not ensure proper resource planning. SPP found the duration of the violations was from June 18, 2007 to December 10, 2010.

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

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

Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (Sunflower) and Mid-Kansas Electric Company, LLC (Mid-Kansas), FERC Docket No. NP13-13 (December 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: Sunflower self-reported that in certain instances, it had not performed a new N-1 contingency study as required after a change in its system conditions (such as after an unplanned facility outage) and, even after it performed a new contingency study, the N-1 analysis was not always complete.

Finding: SPP found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since Sunflower’s failure to conduct the required N-1 contingency studies increased the chance that Sunflower’s system would not be able to withstand a second contingency, which could have led to Sunflower entering an unknown operating state with no knowledge of potential SOLs. Also, as Sunflower has a large network of interconnecting transmission facilities and thus multiple of its facilities may be out of service at one time, it is especially important to have contingency studies that account for actual system conditions. But, Sunflower’s increased risk was limited to those times when Sunflower’s system configuration was not modeled in its library of studies, and there were no reportable events that occurred as a result of Sunflower not performing these additional studies. Sunflower’s system operators also had experience with operating Sunflower’s system under different system configurations. The duration of the TOP-002-2a violation was from December 10, 2010 through July 19, 2011. Sunflower and Mid-Kansas neither admitted nor denied the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC BOTCC considered the fact that some of the violations were self-reported and Sunflower’s compliance program (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor). Sunflower and Mid-Kansas were also cooperative during the compliance process and did not conceal the violations. Sunflower’s prior violations of TOP-002-2 R11 and TOP-004-1 R6 were viewed as an aggravating factor.

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

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, Docket No. NP13-33 (April 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: TOP-002-2a

Requirement: 14.1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: URE self-reported that it did not timely notify the appropriate entities of a change in real and reactive capabilities, as required, when a telephone line failed at its unmanned blackstart unit, and thus, URE was unable to remote start the unit and there was no real-time alarm monitoring capability.

Finding: NPCC found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability since the appropriate entity did not know that the blackstart unit was unavailable for quick-start. But, a URE operator arrived at the blackstart unit within a short period of time and promptly notified the appropriate entity of the loss communication and stated that he was able to dispatch the unit manually. URE’s compliance program was evaluated as a mitigating factor. URE did not contest the violation.

Total Penalty: $30,000 (aggregate for 8 violations)

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