NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-004-2 | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-004-2

NERC Case Notes: Reliability Standard TOP-004-2

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City of Lansing by its Board of Water and Light (LBWL), FERC Docket No. NP14-31 (February 27, 2014)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 3

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: RFC

Issue: LBWL self-reported that, during an incident on March 29, 2012, it did not follow its established islanding procedures and did not ensure that it would not cause instability, uncontrolled separation, or cascading outages by resynchronizing an isolated substation. On March 29, 2012, an LBWL test technician inadvertently caused the breaker for a 138 kV line to open, which isolated LBWL’s Eckert substation from the 138 kV substation. When the operator reclosed the breaker at issue, the Eckert substation was not synchronized with the Bulk Electric System (BES), and a severe voltage excursion occurred on the LBWL transmission and distribution system, which caused Eckert Unit 6 to trip offline and a loss of load to approximately 30,000 customers.

Finding: RFC found that the TOP-004-2 violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. The failure of LBWL’s operator to determine that the Eckert substation was isolated from the BES resulted in the loss of load to 30,000 customers, as well as neighboring TOPs having a 10% voltage decrease for 10 cycles. But, the configuration of LBWL’s system (with generation and load being electrically contiguous, in close proximity and nearly balanced and the two points of service to LBWL being electrically close together) reduces the chance that the islanding of LBWL’s systems would impact the surrounding area of the BPS. In addition, besides the 10% voltage decrease, the March 29, 2012 incident did not cause any instability beyond the LBWL system. The duration of the violation was from March 29, 2012 through May 4, 2012. LBWL admits the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that the violations were self-reported and LBWL’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards. LBWL has a compliance program in place, which was evaluated as a mitigating factor. LBWL was also cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations. In addition, none of the violations constituted a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Total Penalty: $30,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

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, on December 27, 2010 as a result of a trip on the Richard-Scott 138 kV line, Entergy exceeded the System Operating Limits (SOLs) by 8% for 10 minutes on the North Crowley-Scott line and 9% for 35 minutes (11% at peak) on the Richard-Colonial Academy line.

Finding: SERC found that the violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability as operating above the SOLs can result in switching, re-dispatching generation and/or shedding load in order to realign the transmission system configuration. However, during the December 27, 2010 incident, the SOLs exceeded were only thermal limits (not voltage or stability limits) and Entergy has procedures for monitoring and controlling real and reactive power flows (including for identifying overload situations) on its transmission system. In addition, Entergy did not exceed any Interconnection Reliability Operating Limits (IROLs) during the December 27, 2010 incident. 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)

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Lower

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-004-2 R6 because EWEB did not develop, maintain and implement formal policies and procedures to provide for transmission reliability.

Finding: The violation 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 develop, maintain and implement formal policies and procedures to provide for transmission reliability, risk to the BPS was mitigated because it EWEB operated its system according to the requirements of the Standard. 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)

JEA, FERC Docket No. NP12-12 (January 31, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: FRCC

Issue: JEA self-reported that, in its role as a TOP, it was not in compliance with TOP-004-2 because on January 13, 2011, a failed static wire caused the outage of two 138 kV transmission lines which then led to MVA limit conditions on a 230/138 kV autotransformer. JEA’s autotransformer was rated conservatively which caused the System Operating Limit (SOL) to be exceeded, but no Interconnection Reliability Operating Limit (IROL) was exceeded. To compensate for transformer overload, the system operator started a load shed of JEA’s local load (approximately 135 MW) for approximately one hour, but no instability, uncontrolled separation, or cascading outages occurred or would have resulted from transformer loss. In addition, further testing showed the conservative rating and that the autotransformer had not been overloaded or damaged and was not in danger of failing. JEA did have an existing rating methodology under FAC-008 which it followed according to FAC-009.

Finding: FRCC found the violation constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability because, if the transformer had tripped, any problems arising would be limited to the loss of JEA load only, and the manual load shed undertaken to correct the issue only affected local internal load. Plus, the autotransformer had been conservatively rated so there never was an actual overload, which was confirmed by subsequent testing. The duration of the violation was one day only, January 13, 2011. JEA’s compliance program was considered as a mitigating factor in determining the appropriate penalty amount. Also, FRCC considered that there was controlled manual load shed to bring load below SOL established at the time.

Penalty: $0

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

KCPL – Greater Missouri Operations, FERC Docket No. NP12-15 (February 29, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1, R2

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

Region: SPP

Issue: On June 17, 2009 at 9:54 am, KCPL – Greater Missouri Operations (“KCPL-GMO”) suffered a transmission system outage that caused all of KCPL-GMO’s customers in the greater St. Joseph area to lose service. KCPL-GMO lost 84 MW of generating capacity and 258 MW of firm load (which represents approximately 48,000 customers), with power being restored to KCPL-GMO customers by 11:22 am that day and the relevant generator returning to service at 12:54 pm that day. KCPL-GMO’s transmission system outage was limited to the St. Joseph, Missouri area and did not impact any other transmission system. During a compliance audit related to the outage, SPP found that KCPL-GMO’s system operators had not been operating within the System Operating Limits (“SOLs”), as required, following an N-1 contingency event on June 17, 2009. After the loss of the Woodbine-St. Joseph transmission line, KCPL-GMO’s system voltage decreased to 142 kV, which is the below the SOL for emergency conditions. (R1) SPP also found that KCPL-GMO’s system operators improperly operated the system in a condition that resulted in a significant outage following a single contingency. In this case, KCPL-GMO’s loss of the Woodbine-East Side 161 kV transmission line resulted in a drop in system voltage, which contributed to the loss of the Lake Road Unit #4 generating unit. The loss of the generating unit caused the remaining load of the St. Joseph area to go to the Lake Road-Alabama-Nashua transmission path, which sectionalized as a result of the over-current relay operation. (R2)

Finding: SPP found that KCPL-GMO’s violations constituted a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability. The duration of TOP-004-2 violations was from June 17, 2009 through March 31, 2010 (R1) and March 23, 2010 (R2). In approving the penalty amount, NERC BOTCC evaluated the fact that the violations resulted in a loss of load (which increased the severity of the relevant violations); these were the first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards; KCPL-GMO cooperated during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; and KCPL-GMO had an internal compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor). KCPL-GMO also implemented additional voluntary actions in order to prevent future violations.

Penalty: $400,000 (aggregate for 7 violations)

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

Lafayette Utilities System (LAFA), Docket No. NP13-39-000 (May 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 6; 6.4

Violation Risk Factor: N/A

Violation Severity Level: Lower

Region: SPP RE

Issue: Following a Compliance Audit, SPP RE found that LAFA, as a Transmission Operator, violated TOP-004-2 R6.4 in failing to keep accurate alarms in place for all of its transmission facilities as required by its formal transmission operations procedure. The transmission facilities with alarms set were not set up on a uniform basis.

Finding: SPP RE found that this violation posed a moderate, but not a serious or substantial, risk to bulk power system reliability. Two 230 kV substation buses did not have alarms set, but all of LAFA’s 16 miles of 230 kV transmission lines had thermal alarms set at least 91% of line rating so that the system operator would be alerted and respond an approaching SOL violation. LAFA’s NERC-certified operators have significant experience. Even though not all alarms complied with LAFA internal policy, the transmission line loadings are under 24-hour, real time monitoring by the system operators through the LAFA Energy Control System. No facility ratings or SOLs were violated while LAFA was in violation of this standard. In assessing the appropriate penalty, SPP RE credited LAFA’s internal compliance program (ICP) which was developed and improved with consulting input. LAFA utilizes an internal compliance committee, comprised of both employees and consultants, to update its ICP. LAFA also has a separate Electric Reliability Department dedicated to compliance and reliability matters. LAFA uses SharePoint sites to enhance document and record management and yearly self-assessments and mock audit to detect compliance issues.

Total Penalty: $34,000 (aggregate for 4 violations)

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: Milford Wind Corridor Phase I, LLC (Milford Wind) self-certified that it did not have the required formal policies and procedures in place to provide for transmission reliability.

Finding: WECC found that the TOP-004-2 violation only constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability. 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 TOP-004-2 violation occurred from May 18, 2010 through September 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)

PacifiCorp, FERC Docket No. NP11-163-000 (April 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1, R4

Violation Risk Factor: High (R1, R4)

Violation Severity Level: High (R1), Lower (R4)

Region: WECC

Issue: In October 2010, PacifiCorp (PAC), a Transmission Operator, self-reported that on September 20, 2009 it had not kept the TOT-4B transfer path within the 530 MW System Operating Limit (SOL) as required and had exceeded the SOL by an average of 20 MW (R1). In addition, PAC did not restore operations to the TOT-4B transfer path, a thermally-limited path, within the SOL within 30 minutes as required, but took 5 minutes extra (R4).

Finding: WECC and PAC entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the violations, whereby PAC agreed to pay a penalty of $35,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. WECC determined that the violations constituted only a minimal risk to bulk power system reliability since PAC started taking measures immediately to return the flow to the SOL (such as notifying the other Reliability Coordinators and Transmission Operators in the neighboring area and asking for the opening of transmission lines and for the movement of phase shifters). In addition, PAC only exceeded the limit by 5 minutes and an average of 20 MW (which comprises only 3.8% of the SOL for the TOT-4B transfer path). The duration of the violations was from September 20, 2009 through August 13, 2010. In approving the settlement agreement and the penalty determination, NERC considered the fact that these violations were PAC’s first violations of this Reliability Standard; one of the violations was self-reported; the violations were both related to single non-compliance occurrence; PAC was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; PAC had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $35,000

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

PJM Interconnection LLC ("PJM") and Delmarva Power & Light Company ("Delmarva") FERC Docket No. NP15-27-000 (April 30, 2015)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R4

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: ReliabilityFirst

Issue: During a compliance audit, ReliabilityFirst found that PJM and Delmarva did not resume operations within 30 minutes of a multiple-alarm event, which ReliabilityFirst classified as an "unknown operating state." During the event, Delmarva received 14 fatal and non-fatal EMS alarms over seven hours due to unstable direct current (DC) voltage that caused intermittent loss of DC power at Delmarva's substation.

Finding: ReliabilityFirst found that the violation posed a moderate, but not a serious or substantial risk, to the BPS reliability. The risk was created because the alarms were not analyzed nor studied to explore system reliability issues; neither party took action; and neither party considered the event an "unknown operating state." The risk was lower in this instance because Delmarva only received communication alarms and not loss-of relay alarms; and the RTU alarms were not functional for only a limited period of 23 seconds. In approving the settlement agreement, the NERC considered both parties' use and completion of mitigation procedures, lack of prior violations, cooperation in the enforcement process and prevention steps, and absence of attempts to conceal the violation. In addition, the NERC considered the moderate risk of the violation, and the absence of other mitigating or aggravating factors. PJM's mitigation process included (1) training on the importance of immediate communications, (2) discussion of the importance of timely updates on protection system status reporting, (3) clarification of the responsibilities of transmission and generation owners to communicate changes, degradations or outages and (4) clarification that facilities with degraded or no relay protection will be switched out of service. Delmarva's mitigation procedure to switch the substation's DC power to a battery supply system began prior to the audit.

Penalty: $0 (for 1 violation)

FERC Order: Issued May 29, 2015 (no further review)

Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County (SNPD), Docket No. NP12-22-000 (March 30, 2012)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R2, R3, R6

Violation Risk Factor: High (R2, R3); Medium (R6)

Violation Severity Level: High (R2, R3); Moderate (R6)

Region: WECC

Issue: SNPD registered as a TOP with NERC effective as of February 6, 2009, subsequently, SNPD submitted self-reports addressing non-compliance with NERC Reliability Standards. SNPD is located in the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Control Area. BPA was registered with NERC as the area TOP, and BPA had informed SNPD that it was not required to register as a TOP with NERC; however, after review of a FERC order discussing TOP compliance, on December 24, 2008, BPA notified SNPD that it would no longer serve as its TOP, effective immediately. SNPD then registered as a TOP and reported itself as non-compliant with applicable NERC Reliability Standards. SNPD underwent a WECC audit in January 2012 and no compliance violations were found.

Starting on February 6, 2009, the date SNPD registered as a TOP with NERC, SNPD was in violation of TOP-004-2 R2, R3 and R6. Regarding R2, SNPD was not in compliance because it did not develop, maintain and implement formal policies and procedures to provide for transmission reliability. Regarding R3, SNPD was not routinely performing comprehensive transient stability analysis to avoid instability, uncontrolled separation or cascading outages resulting from multiple outages. Regarding R6, SNPD had no formal policies and procedures to ensure transmission reliability.

Finding: The violations posed no serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability. WECC considered that SNPD was new to the TOP role because of a registration issue. Although SNPD was not compliant with the TOP-004-2 Reliability Standards, risk was mitigated as BPA was serving as the Control Area operator prior to SNPD formalizing its policies and procedures. Even though SPND was not routinely conducting transient stability analysis, the operational planning involved is normally performed on a long-term basis and BPA had completed a stability analysis adequate to ensure SNPD system reliability. In addition, BPA conducted a technical assessment of SPND’s electrical system in determining whether it would act as SPND’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 SNPD system for BPS reliability. While SNPD 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 SNPD to obtain full TOP certification. At the time SNPD 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 SNPD that it would not be its TOP, effective immediately on December 24, 2008. SNPD then found itself immediately required to be NERC compliant. SNPD 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 SNPD.

Penalty: $0

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

Puget Sound Energy, Inc., FERC Docket No. NP14-1 (October 30, 2013)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: WECC

Issue: On September 26, 2012, one of Puget Sound Energy, Inc.’s (PSE) 115 kV lines (which connected Sumas Transmission Station to Bellingham Transmission Station) tripped as a result of a fault caused by a tree, which resulted in the Sumas-Lynden line being the only line carrying the Sumas Transmission Station’s output and the Sumas-Lynden line exceeding its SOL. As the trip on the line occurred while PSE was performing an energy management system failover (which produced false alarms), PSE’s power system dispatchers did not immediately discover that the line had tripped. PSE self-reported that, that the Sumas-Lynden line was loaded to 128.5 MVA (which is 117% of its SOL rating of 110 MVA) for 41 minutes on September 26, 2012.

Finding: WECC found that the TOP-004-2 violation constituted a minimal risk to BPS reliability as PSE was operating pursuant to conservative SOLs. PSE still had its summer ratings in effect, even though PSE’s spring/fall SOL rating (of 144 MVA) more accurately reflected the Sumas-Lynden line’s capability on September 26, 2012. And, once PSE realized that the trip had occurred, it dispatched line patrol within five minutes to correct the problem. In addition, the generation facility at the Sumas Transmission Station accounted for only 4% of PSE’s generation capacity, and PSE had alternative generation and transmission resources available to reduce the stress on the system. The TOP-004-2 violation lasted for approximately 41 minutes on September 26, 2012. PSE agreed and stipulated to the violations. In approving the settlement agreement, NERC BOTCC considered the fact that the violations were PSE’s first violations of the relevant Reliability Standards and that the violations were self-reported. PSE also had a compliance program in place and PSE engaged in voluntary corrective action to remediate the violations. PSE also improved its SOL Rating Precision and Protection System Training. The violations did not constitute a serious or substantial risk to BPS reliability.

Total Penalty: $50,000 (aggregate for 2 violations)

FERC Order: Issued November 29, 2013 (no further review)

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 6

Violation Risk Factor: Medium

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (“Sunflower”) self-reported that it was in violation of R6 because its policies and procedures for transmission reliability were deficient. SPP subsequently determined that although Sunflower’s policies and procedures for transmission reliability provided guidance to its System Operators for controlling actions to take to resolve emergencies, it lacked the specific wording regarding system operations required by R6.

Finding: SPP determined that the violation of R6 posed a minimal risk, but did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS because Sunflower’s System Operators are NERC-certified, which involves training on how to operate to maintain transmission reliability, and Sunflower’s policies and procedures provided System Operators relevant guidance. Moreover, Sunflower has not been faced with any of the conditions contemplated by R6. SPP found the duration of the violations was from June 18, 2007 to October 4, 2010.

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

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

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 2

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: Sunflower self-reported that it was relying on post-contingency mitigation measures for the Clifton 1 and Clifton-to-Greenleaf outages for its current system configuration that would not be able to prevent a possible voltage collapse in the northeast part of its system. Thus, Sunflower was operating its system in a condition where instability, uncontrolled separation or cascading outages could have occurred as a result of the most severe single contingency.

Finding: SPP found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. There was only a small possibility that either of the two N-1 contingencies would have occurred concurrently, and Sunflower acted quickly to fix the inadequacy of its post-contingency mitigation plan. In addition, Sunflower was conducting its current and next-day studies and had implemented a post-contingency mitigation plan to address contingencies which would have resulted in SOL violations. The duration of the TOP-004-2 R2 violation was from June 5, 2012 through June 30, 2012. 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)

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: 4

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: Severe

Region: SPP

Issue: During a compliance audit, SPP determined that on June 26, 2011 a portion of Sunflower’s system was in an unknown operating state for approximately 88 minutes. As a result of the activation of the fire protection deluge system on Sunflower’s Holcomb Substation 115 kV-345 kV transformer, there was a decline in system voltage (below 90%) at numerous points across Sunflower’s 115 kV system. As Sunflower also had inadequate reactive resources, Sunflower was unable to calculate its SOLs, and therefore was operating in an unknown state, for approximately 88 minutes. Sunflower was only able to calculate its SOLs after it started its S5 combustion turbine.

Finding: SPP found that this violation constituted a moderate risk to BPS reliability. During the vast majority of the time Sunflower was operating its system in an unknown state, its system operators were aware of the unknown operating state and were engaging in responsive actions. Also, the delay in restoring operations was the result of the actions taken by the system operators to address the emergency. The system operators promptly fixed the SOL violations and restored Sunflower’s system voltage to normal levels within 66 minutes after the loss of the Holcomb Substation 115 kV-345 kV transformer. The duration of the TOP-004-2 R4 violation was from June 26, 2011 at 1646 through June 26, 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)

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

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: FRCC

Issue: Tampa Electric Company (TEC) self-reported a violation because on May 4, 2009, one of its 230 kV circuits exceeded the nominal line rating by up to 7.2% over 43 minutes.

Finding: FRCC Enforcement determined that the violation did not pose a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system because TEC determined later that the thermal rating of the line was not exceeded due to the real time ambient conditions at the time of the event. Further, the NERC BOTCC concluded the penalty appropriate because this was TEC’s first violation of the Standard, TEC self-reported the violation, and TEC was cooperative during the investigation.

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

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-176-000 (April 29, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: In April 2009, the Unidentified Registered Entity (URE) self-reported that it had been operating a 500 kV line beyond its System Operating Limit (SOL) and had not undertaken immediate action to decrease load in order to restore operations within the SOL. The emergency ratings for the line were not exceeded, but the line was operating above its most limiting parameter.

Finding: WECC and the URE entered into a settlement agreement to resolve multiple violations, whereby the URE agreed to pay a penalty of $80,000 and to undertake other mitigation measures. WECC found that the violation of TOP-004-2 constituted a moderate risk to bulk power system reliability. But, the magnitude of the overload was only 3.7%, no Interconnection Reliability Operating Limits were implicated, and the operations on the line were appreciably lower than the emergency ratings of the transmission element. The duration of the TOP-004-2 violation was for three months and four days. In approving the settlement agreement and the penalty determination, NERC considered the fact that the violations were self-reported; the URE was cooperative during the enforcement process and did not conceal the violations; the URE had a compliance program in place (which was evaluated as a mitigating factor); the violations of IRO-005-2 R13 and TOP-004-2 R1 resulted from a single noncompliance occurrence; and there were no additional aggravating or mitigating factors.

Penalty: $80,000 (aggregate for 7 violations)

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

Unidentified Registered Entity, FERC Docket No. NP11-269-000 (September 30, 2011)

Reliability Standard: TOP-004-2

Requirement: R1

Violation Risk Factor: High

Violation Severity Level: High

Region: WECC

Issue: URE self-reported that it exceeded the System Operating Limit on a path for more than 30 minutes.

Finding: WECC determined that the violation of R1 posed a moderate risk to the BPS because the transmission element involved is a line that constitutes a WECC path and failure to operate it correctly could overload other lines; however, loss of the line would have automatically engaged a contingency arming system that mitigates disturbances by tripping generating units. Moreover, there were back up power relays to support the contingency arming system, and URE was taking actions to reduce generation and flow on the path during the event, even though it could not bring the line under its SOL at the required time. Duration of the violation was more than 30 minutes on a single day. WECC and the NERC BOTCC took into consideration that URE had a compliance program as a particular mitigating factor, as well as URE's self-report.

Penalty: $225,000 (aggregate for 11 violations)

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