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NERC Board OKs 13 New Reliability Standards, Changes to Three Existing Rules

The board of trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) last week approved 13 new reliability standards and approved revisions to three existing standards. The standards cover seven critical reliability areas: vegetation management, facility ratings, transfer capabilities, reliability coordination, verification of generator capabilities, transmission and generation protection systems and undervoltage load shedding.

NERC said a new standard on vegetation management is intended to reduce the probability of transmission outages caused by vegetation located in or near transmission rights-of-way. It specifies a minimum safe clearance between energized conductors and vegetation, requires uniform reporting of vegetation-related transmission outages and increases documentation, design and training requirements.

Vegetation management came under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the historic August 2003 blackout. For example, FERC in April 2004 directed transmission-operating utilities to file reports at the Commission detailing their vegetation management practices in transmission corridors.

Meanwhile, two new NERC standards on facility ratings set the minimum criteria and elements to be considered in the calculation of facility ratings to plan and operate the bulk electric system. The standards require consideration of manufacturer equipment ratings, system design criteria, ambient conditions and other applicable assumptions. They also set requirements for communicating facility ratings to other reliability entities.

Another two new standards ensure that the methods used by planning authorities and reliability coordinators to determine transfer capability are documented and communicated to constituents and neighbors.

Three new standards expand the operating and situational awareness requirements for reliability coordinators. They require the establishment of consistent procedures for the coordination of system conditions, events and actions among reliability coordinators.

Two other new standards require regional reliability organizations to develop requirements and procedures for the verification of generator real and reactive power capability, and generator owners to determine and report those capabilities. The standards provide minimum elements that must be included in the reporting of real and reactive generator capabilities.

Three new standards require each regional reliability organization to maintain a database of undervoltage load shedding programs in the region.

The board also approved revisions to three existing standards on transmission and generation protection systems. The revisions provide greater specificity for regional reliability organization procedures for analyzing and reporting generator relay misoperations. The revised standards also add requirements for generator owners to analyze and report relay misoperations and to have a documented program for relay maintenance and testing.

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