NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-003-0 | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-003-0

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-003-0

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

Bear Swamp Power Company LLC (BSPC), Docket No. NP13-3 (October 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: 1/1.1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: ISO-NE filed a complaint with NPCC stating that BSPC failed to request and obtain approval for a planned outage in writing per the ISO-NE's scheduling procedures. Although BSPC communicated with the ISO-NE about the outage, all such communications were verbal. NPCC found BSPC in violation of R1 for the duration of one day, July 8, 2011, the date it should have properly reported the outage.

Finding: NPCC determined that the violation posed a moderate risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk, to the reliability of the BPS because load relief could have been required to maintain reliability of the ISO-NE system if backup generation had not been available during the outage. The risk was mitigated because ISO-NE was able to quickly balance the system by adjusting on-line generation. In addition, this was BSPC's first violation of this Reliability Standard, BSPC had an internal compliance program and was cooperative, there was no evidence of any attempt or intent to conceal a violation, nor that the violation was intentional.

Penalty: $30,000

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

Calpine Energy Services, FERC Docket No. NP10-43-000 (February 1, 2010)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: SERC

Issue: During a compliance audit of Calpine Energy Services (CES) in June 2009, SERC discovered a potential violation of TOP-003-0 R1 as CES was unable to demonstrate that it was providing daily outage information to its Transmission Operator. CES did have documentation showing that it was providing the outage information to its Balancing Authority and Transmission Service Provider.

Finding: SERC and CES entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby CES neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations but agreed to pay a penalty and to undertake other mitigation measures. SERC found that the alleged violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since CES was actually performing the required notifications (even though it was unable to produce the necessary documentation). In determining the penalty, SERC considered the fact that these were CES’ first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards during the mandatory period; CES was cooperative during the compliance enforcement process and did not attempt to conceal the alleged violations; CES agreed to quickly resolve the alleged violations through a settlement agreement; and CES answered all of SERC’s data requests (even though CES was initially unable to produce some of the requested information). CES has completed a mitigation plan and initiated other measures to strengthen its internal compliance program.

Total Penalty: $20,000 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

City of Burbank Water and Power, FERC Docket No. NP10-107-000 (June 2, 2010)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R2

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: The City of Burbank Water and Power (BURB) failed to plan and coordinate scheduled outages of its system voltage regulating equipment with its Balancing Authority and Transmission Operator.

Finding: The duration of the alleged violations of CIP-001-1 R1 through R3 was from June 18, 2007, the date the Standards became enforceable, until June 29, 2009 when BURB completed its Mitigation Plan. WECC assessed a penalty of $44,500 for these and other alleged violations. In assessing this penalty, WECC considered these factors: (1) the alleged violations were BURB’s first occurrence of non-compliance with this NERC Reliability Standards; (2) the alleged violation of TOP-003-0 and other NERC Reliability Standards were self-reported after notification of upcoming off-site compliance audits; (3) BURB cooperated during the compliance enforcement process; (4) there was no attempt to conceal a violation or evidence of intent to do so; and (5) the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system.

Penalty: $44,500 (aggregate for multiple violations)

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

Dartmouth Power Associates, LP, FERC Docket No. NP11-160-000 (March 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1.1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: NPCC

Issue: NPCC discovered a violation of R1.1 during a compliance violation investigation because Dartmouth Power Associates, LP (“DPA”) failed to notify its Transmission Operator of a daily scheduled generator outage to repair a tube leak.

Finding: NPCC determined the violation posed a moderate risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the Bulk Power System because of the low amount of generation that was unable to be dispatched (about 62 MW). The NERC BOTCC considered the following factors: this was DPA’s first violation; DPA was cooperative; DPA’s corporate family had a compliance procedure in place, which NPCC considered a mitigating factor; there was no evidence of any attempt or intent to conceal the violations; and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors.

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

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

Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB), Docket No. NP12-22-000 (March 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1, R3

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: EWEB registered as a TOP with NERC effective as of May 8, 2009, and subsequently, EWEB submitted self-reports addressing non-compliance with NERC Reliability Standards. EWEB is located in the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Control Area. Prior to May 8, BPA was registered with NERC as the area TOP, and BPA had informed EWEB that it was not required to register as a TOP with NERC; however, after review of a FERC order discussing TOP compliance, on April 6, 2009, BPA notified EWEB that it would no longer serve as its TOP. EWEB then registered as a TOP and reported itself as non-compliant with applicable NERC Reliability Standards.

Starting on May 8, 2009, the date EWEB registered as a TOP with NERC, EWEB was in violation of TOP-003-0 R1 and R3 because, regarding R1, EWEB did not provide planned outage information on a daily basis to its TOP, BA and RC for scheduled generator outages planned for the day. Regarding R3, EWEB did not plan and coordinate scheduled outages of telemetering and control equipment and associated communication channels between the affected areas.

Finding: The violations posed no serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability. WECC considered that EWEB was new to the TOP role because of a registration issue. Although EWEB did not plan and coordinate schedule outages, risk to the BPS was mitigated because it had informed adjacent entities and its BA of all required information and its staff was capable of planning and coordinating scheduled outages. In addition, BPA conducted a technical assessment of EWEB’s electrical system in determining whether it would act as EWEB’s TOP, and the assessment results showed that BPA was not performing TOP duties in the first place, and second it did not need control of the EWEB system for BPS reliability. As the BA for EWEB, BPA was responsible for system reliability within its footprint. While EWEB was working towards TOP certification, BPA performed TOP duties such as coordinating outage plans, day-to-day routine real-time communications and notifications and any unplanned work forced by equipment failures, storms, etc. BPA assured the RC it would continue to communicate any planned and emergency outages and would work diligently with EWEB to obtain full TOP certification. At the time EWEB registered as a TOP, it was working on compliance with its other functions as Transmission Owner (TO), Transmission Provider (TP), Purchasing-Selling Entity (PSE), Load Serving Entity (LSE), Distribution Provider (DP), Generator Owner (GO) and Generator Operator (GOP).

WECC assessed no penalty due to the circumstances surrounding the non compliance. BPA unexpectedly notified EWEB that it would not be its TOP, effective immediately on April 6, 2009. EWEB then found itself immediately required to be NERC compliant. EWEB submitted its self reports in a timely manner and in addition submitted mitigation plans which were timely completed. The violations were not repeat violations and were not contested by EWEB.

Penalty: $0

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

Grays Harbor Energy LLC, FERC Docket No. NP11-170-000 (April 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: Grays Harbor Energy LLC (“GHE”) self reported a violation of TOP-003-0 R1 because it did not have a protection system maintenance and testing plan including intervals and their bases or a summary of maintenance and testing procedures.

Finding: WECC Enforcement determined the violation posed a minimal risk to the bulk power system because GHE was maintaining and testing its protection systems pursuant to the International Electrical Testing Association specifications. Moreover, the facility only has a historical capacity of 20.7 MW and was only synchronized to the grid in 2008. Functional testing was a part of commissioning, so at plant start-up, everything was in known working order. The NERC BOTCC considered the following factors: GHE self-reported the violation; GHE was cooperative; GHE had a compliance procedure in place, which WECC considered a mitigating factor; there was no evidence of any attempt or intent to conceal the violation; and there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors.

Penalty: $16,550 (aggregated for multiple violations)

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1/1.1, R2, R3

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: NAES Corporation-Tracy (NAES-Tracy) self-reported that it did not have procedures in place to provide planned outage information, to identify the proper scheduling requirements for outage planning coordination, or to plan and coordinate scheduled outages of telemetering and control equipment and the associated communication channels between the affected areas.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since NAES-Tracy was already engaged in communications with its Transmission Operator and Balancing Authority (even though it did not have documented procedures in place). In addition, the violations were primarily documentation issues. The violations were self-reported and they were NAES-Tracy's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Even though the violations occurred before the Reliability Standards became mandatory, NAES-Tracy did not timely complete its mitigation plan, turning the violations into a 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)

Forward Energy, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP11-45-000 (November 30, 2010)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: MRO

Issue: In the course of a spot-check, Forward Energy, LLC ("FE") notified MRO that it discovered that it had failed to provide its Transmission Operator (“TO”) notice of one three-day scheduled outage. FE had notified the utilities taking the output from the facility, and those utilities had, in turn, reported the outage to the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”), including to MISO’s outage scheduler.

Finding: NERC determined Deficiency Notice of Penalty treatment was appropriate in this case because the risk was minimal. All relevant parties were notified of the outage, including the MISO outage scheduler; the only violation was that the TO was not directly informed of the outage.

Penalty: $0

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

New Hope Power Partnership, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1, R2, R3

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: FRCC

Issue: It was discovered in December 2007 that New Hope Power Partnership (NHPP) did not possess sufficient documentation to show that it had communicated outage information to its Transmission Operator; did not have the records to demonstrate to its Balancing Authority and Transmission Operator its planned and coordinated scheduled outages of certain system voltage regulating equipment; and did not have the required records documenting its planned and coordinated scheduled outages of telemetering and control equipment, as well as the relevant communication channels between the affected areas.

Finding: FRCC found that this violation did not involve a serious or substantial risk to bulk power system reliability since NHPP was actually communicating with its Transmission Operator, Balancing Authority and Reliabilty Coordinator on a daily basis (even through NHPP did not, based on its previous procedures, keep any record of this communication). This was NHPP's first violation of this Reliability Standard and it completed a mitigation plan.

Penalty: $0

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

The Dow Chemical Company, FERC Docket NP08-34-000 (June 5, 2008)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: SERC

Issue: Dow self-reported that it had not been reporting its generation outage information to the Reliability Coordinator.

Finding: No penalty assessed because the violations occurred during the transition period to mandatory compliance and did not put the bulk power system reliability at serious or substantial risk.

Penalty: $0

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

TransAlta Centralia Generation, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP10-2-000 (October 14, 2009)

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: In May 2008, TransAlta Centralia Generation, LLC (TransAlta) self-certified that it had not been reporting its planned outage information to its Transmission Operator by 12:00 pm Pacific Standard Time. Instead, TransAlta has been submitting its planned outage information by 2:30 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Finding: WECC found that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since TransAlta had still been providing the required information to its Transmission Operator. This was TransAlta's first violation of this Reliability Standard. A mitigation plan has been completed.

Penalty: $0

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1, R2, R3

Violation Risk Factor: Medium (for R1, R2, R3)

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: In June 2008, USACE-Portland District (USACE-PD) self-certified that while it had been providing outage information to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), it had not provided that information to other appropriate parties in the Interconnection as required. USACE-PD also self-certified that while it planned and coordinated scheduled outages of system voltage regulating equipment, telemetering and control equipment, and the associated communication channels with the BPA, it had also not been providing that information to other appropriate parties in the Interconnection as required.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since USACE-PD, while working with the BPA, had actually been performing the actions required by TOP-003-0 (such as providing annual, recurring updates and participating in weekly calls concerning outage coordination). The violations were USACE-PD's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Even though USACE-PD completed its mitigation plan 1 1/2 months late, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R1, R2, R3

Violation Risk Factor: Medium (for R1, R2, R3)

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: WECC

Issue: In July 2008, USACE-Walla Walla District (USACE-WW) self-certified that while it had been providing outage information to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), it had not provided that information to other appropriate parties in the Interconnection as required. USACE-WW also self-certified that while it planned and coordinated scheduled outages of system voltage regulating equipment, telemetering and control equipment, and the associated communication channels with the BPA, it had also not been providing that information to other appropriate parties in the Interconnection as required.

Finding: WECC found that the violations did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system since USACE-WW, while working with the BPA, had actually been performing the actions required by TOP-003-0 (such as providing annual, recurring updates and participating in weekly calls concerning outage coordination). USACE-WW and BPA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to have BPA to continue to act as USACE-WW's representative in coordinating outage information. The violations were USACE-WW's first violations of this Reliability Standard. Even though USACE-WW completed its mitigation plan two weeks late, no penalty was imposed.

Penalty: $0

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

WECC RC [Pacific Northwest Security Coordinator] 2010

Reliability Standard: TOP-003-0

Requirement: R4

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Not provided

Region: NERC as Compliance Enforcement Authority (NCEA)

Issue: During the period from June 18, 2007 through January 1, 2009, the Pacific Northwest Security Coordinator could not provide evidence that it had the authority to resolve scheduling conflicts.

Finding: The violation was the first violation of this Reliability Standard and it did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to the bulk power system. WECC was certified as the Reliability Coordinator on January 1, 2009 and assumed all further responsibilities. The violation was mitigated through the dissolution of the entity and NERC's certification of WECC as the new Reliability Coordinator for the region.

Penalty: $0

FERC Order: Issued October 13, 2010 (no further review)