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APPA urges FERC to reconsider, approve NERC definition of bulk electric system

From the January 24, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 24, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on rehearing should approve the definition of the "bulk electric system" as proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., APPA said in a Jan. 22 request for rehearing. APPA faulted the commission for substituting the expertise of NERC with that of FERC staff in making significant changes to NERC’s proposed definition, in particular the exclusions for radial systems and local networks. The commission "effectively seized the pen and rewrote the definition to its liking," APPA said.

Instead of rewriting the definition itself, the commission could have accepted NERC’s definition, subject to a future review, to determine the effectiveness of NERC’s overall definition and exceptions regime, APPA said. In the alternative, the commission could have directed NERC further to consider the aspects of the definition that the commission found troublesome, APPA said. The decision to rewrite the definition "is neither consistent with the Section 215 [of the Federal Power Act] framework nor with the commission’s own recognition that ‘any modification to a reliability standard, including a modification that addresses a commission directive, must be developed and fully vetted through NERC’s reliability standard development process,’" APPA said.

The commission’s changes to the exclusions "will destabilize the careful and practical balance of administrative and technical considerations that the drafting team had achieved," APPA said. "The result of the commission’s no doubt well-intentioned decision further to tinker under the definition’s hood could well be a flood of technically complex exception requests that will divert resources, including those of the commission, from a focus on reliable planning and operations, to litigation of jurisdictional disputes."

The commission’s changes also "will have a substantial adverse impact on a substantial number of small entities," rendering the commission’s analysis of the proposed rule under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 inapplicable and deficient, APPA said.


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