FERC, NERC will clarify definition of bulk electric system

FERC on June 21 issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) for proposed revisions to NERC’s definition of the bulk electric system (Docket Nos. RM12-6-000, RM12-7-000).

The revisions, included in a 4,735-page document filed by NERC in January in response to a FERC directive, would change the definition of the bulk electric system to provide greater clarity and ensure consistency in identifying system elements across North America’s eight reliability regions. The revisions would establish a “core” definition that includes all transmission, real power and reactive power facilities operated or connected at 100-kV or higher.

In addition, revisions would eliminate the discretion that regional entities currently have to define the systems in their regions without any oversight from FERC or NERC.

The revisions would also identify specific facility configurations that are included in, or excluded from, the definition.

Facility configurations that would be included in the definition include transformers with primary windings that operate at 100-kV or higher, generator terminals through the high side of the step-up transformer connected at a voltage of 100-kV or above, blackstart resources regardless of their size or the voltage at which they are connected, dispersed power-producing resources connected to a system that aggregates their capacity, and devices other than generators that are dedicated to supplying or absorbing reactive power and connected at 100-kV or higher.

Facility configurations that would be excluded consist of radial facilities, generating facilities on the customer side of the meter, and local networks of transmission elements that distribute power to load rather than transfer bulk power across the interconnected system.

The NOPR, issued at FERC’s monthly open meeting, proposes to approve the revisions to the definition of bulk electric system; NERC’s new rules of procedure for adding elements to, and removing them from, the definition on a case-by-case basis; and seeks comment on certain other issues, including the exclusion and inclusion of certain facility configurations from the definition.

Comments on the NOPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.