Thursday, January 24, 2019

FERC OKs Reliability Standard on Fault Protections

By Rich Heidorn Jr.

FERC last week gave final approval to NERC reliability standards on training requirements and the coordination of protection systems to detect and isolate faults (Order 847, RM16-22).

Standard PER-006-1 (Specific Training for Personnel) sets training requirements for real-time operations personnel to ensure they understand the purpose and limitations of protection systems schemes. It also adds more precise and auditable requirements, FERC said.

FERC Reliability Standards Fault Protections

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PRC-027-1 (Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults) seeks to ensure protection systems operate in the intended sequence. It requires applicable entities to perform a protection system coordination study to determine whether the systems are operating in the proper sequence during faults or compare present fault current values to an established fault current baseline. In the latter case, a coordination study would be required only if there is a 15% or greater deviation in fault current values. The reviews are required every six years.

The commission’s June 7 order also approved new and revised definitions for three terms: protection system coordination study, operational planning analysis and real-time assessment.

FERC, however, rejected a proposal in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to modify PRC-027-1 to require an initial protection system coordination study as a baseline, bowing to complaints by NERC and others.

NERC said that although the requirement could help reduce misoperations caused by a lack of coordination, it would be costly and burdensome. The reliability organization said it “expects that many entities will choose to do a full protection system coordination study … for their more impactful [bulk electric system] elements” and that “it is highly likely that the overwhelming majority of entities have already conducted coordination studies for their protection systems.”

FERC said it agreed that applicable entities will conduct studies on their significant facilities even without the requirement.

“We recognize the concern that were the NOPR directive adopted, applicable entities could be required to rerun protection system coordination studies for the sole purpose of generating compliance documentation, even if such entities already performed protection system coordination studies that remain valid but lack documentation to substantiate compliance,” the commission said.