Power & Pipes

FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

The commissioners from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a joint meeting on June 7 to discuss grid reliability and cybersecurity. FERC and NRC staff provided presentations on the recent and ongoing activities of both agencies to promote a stable, resilient, and secure grid. The presentations were largely a summary of recent agency activities and served to continue the practice of both independent regulatory agencies meeting to discuss items of common interest.

In his opening remarks, FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre noted that joint meetings “help [both NRC and FERC] exchange information on critical areas of interest to both commissions and to the various stakeholders within our respective spaces to enable both commissions to do a better job for the American people and to better carry out their missions” and referenced the recently-executed join FERC/NRC Memorandum of Understanding on the subject of critical energy infrastructure information.

Mark Lauby, the chief reliability officer at NERC, addressed the current status of grid reliability. Mr. Lauby explained that the bulk power system has been increasingly resilient in responding to severe weather and that the system has maintained reliability under increasingly severe cyber and physical security threats. Mr. Lauby also noted, however, that inverter disconnects during transmission disturbances present an emerging risk, particularly in regions supplied by significant solar generation.

Christopher MacFarlane, from FERC’s Office of General Counsel, provided a primer on the genesis and development of FERC’s Critical Energy/Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII) Regulations, which were modified in response to the new Section 215A of the Federal Power Act added by the provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Deepak Ramlatchan, from FERC’s Office of Energy Market Regulation, addressed grid resilience in RTOs and ISOs and FERC’s recent and current activities regarding grid resilience. Mr. Ramlatchan said FERC is currently examining the resilience of the bulk power system with input from RTOs, ISOs, and other industry participants. He added that several RTOs and ISOs have responded to questions posed by FERC, and that those responses centered on the interplay of resilience/reliability, the types of studies conducted, operations supporting resilience, fuel security, inter-regional and cross-sector issues, and market enhancements.

Finally, Patricia Eke, from FERC’s Office of Electric Reliability and James Anderson, director of the NRC’s Division of Physical & Cyber Security Policy, Office of Nuclear Security & Incident Response provided a presentation on cybersecurity. Ms. Eke’s presentation addressed the pending supply chain risk management reliability standard and provided an update on FERC’s Cyber Security Incident Reporting Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Mr. Anderson’s presentation addressed the manner in which the NRC and licensees have implemented the NRC’s cybersecurity regulations and identified activities that the NRC is undertaking, and will continue to undertake regarding cybersecurity.

For an overview of presentations provided by NRC Staff, please see here.

A webcast of the joint meeting is available here.