Regulatory compliance is about to get more complex for energy companies. The new North American Electric Reliability Corporation CIPV5 standards feature a number of major changes to the regulatory requirements. Many of these changes focus on cybersecurity as the grid becomes vulnerable to hackers. This need to protect the grid from information-related attacks has cascading impacts across utility operations, including a need to protect a much wider range of assets.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District recently completed a pilot project working through the new NERC CIPV5 regulations, and found that identifying precisely which facilities will be covered by the standard is one of the major challenges emerging from the changes, the Western Energy Institute reported.
Looking at facility coverage changes in NERC CIPV5
According to the news source, the case study with the new standards, which began in 2013, unveiled a number of areas where there is a great deal of interpretation in the wording for the guidelines. Most of those have been dealt with at this point, but like any legal document, its full range for interpretation will become more evident as situations arise. Audits will establish precedence for different decisions, clarifying areas where there is ambiguity. One such area is which facilities need to comply with the new standard.
The report explained that in previous versions of the NERC CIP standard, electric utilities would have the freedom to define which facilities needed to comply with the standard based on whether or not they were a critical component of the bulk electric system. The new standard allows for a much wider range of transmission assets to be covered and labeled as either high, medium or low-impact facilities. This not only creates room for interpretation of how a transmission asset should be classified, but potentially opens up a need to apply NERC CIP principles to a much wider range of facilities within the utility grid.
Getting ahead of the changes in NERC CIPV5
Compliance with the new NERC CIPV5 standards will become necessary April 1, 2016. As utility operators work to get their employees up to speed, they must also consider how they train new workers to comply with the regulations. Elearning solutions can provide vital insights into the requirements of regulatory standards like NERC CIPV5.
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