NERC Doesn’t Have to Mean Overworked
June 14, 2022
Utility companies undertake the essential task of powering the households of all their customers. The reliability of a utility’s services can make or break the livelihoods of the businesses and residents that rely on the consistent delivery of electricity.
In order to power businesses and homes safely and effectively, power systems in the United States must meet the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) standards of reliability.
“There are currently 93 mandatory standards, but each standard can have anywhere from 2 to 12 individual requirements,” said Omer Vejzovic, Lead Studies Engineer at Ulteig. “The more registrations a utility has with NERC, the more standards they are subject to comply with and to prove their compliance with. Although it is important for a utility to prove their compliance, it can be an overwhelming task for utilities with smaller in-house compliance departments.”
With years of experience in transmission planning studies and NERC compliance, Vejzovic is an expert in helping utilities meet the nation’s reliability standards. Prior to his position at Ulteig, Vejzovic worked at a municipal utility under the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO), the NERC Regional entity that monitors and enforces compliance with standards for utilities in that region.
NERC ensures that its reliability standards are met by performing frequent audits on utilities across the nation. Utilities are not only responsible for having an understanding of the current standards and meeting them, but they must be prepared to have proof and documentation of compliance with those standards in order to be adequately prepared for NERC audits.
Though the frequency at which different utilities are audited varies, Vejzovic notes that many regional NERC entities are transitioning to more frequent audits, which means that companies could have less time to prepare for an upcoming audit.
“NERC standards are not static; they are continuously updating their standards,” said Vejzovic. “Sometimes companies only have about four months to 1 year to meet a new standard whose requirements tend to be very specific and technical. That’s when you’ll see a lot of companies reach out to consultants such as Ulteig for help in complying with new standards and individual requirements.”
With NERC standards constantly developing, often times, utilities with smaller in-house compliance departments do not have the bandwidth to stay up to date on the changing standards on their own.
Complex Compliance Made Simple with Ulteig’s Support
Utilities whose in-house compliance resources are limited can turn to Ulteig’s Transmission Compliance experts to provide top-tier compliance support in meeting NERC requirements and preparing for audits.
“The team at Ulteig provides a thorough overview of a utility’s compliance procedures, documentation and evidence to make sure a utility can pass an audit,” said Vejzovic. “We review all of the required evidence, then provide feedback for improvement and suggest additional proof needed to be in compliance.”
Ulteig’s team is qualified to ensure compliance standards are met for topics inside of transmission planning, such as and transmission operations.
To provide a holistic overview of a utility’s compliance, Ulteig can perform mock-audits. A mock-audit is a simulated audit performed by Ulteig experts, to help utilities see how they would perform under a real audit. The results of the mock-audit provide the utility with information on next-steps they can take to be most-prepared for a real audit.
“The mock-audits we can perform would provide a lot of clarity for utilities who might not have the structures in place to stay up-to-date on new standards,” said Vejzovic.
An engineering consultant such as Vejzovic can provide extensive knowledge about the history of NERC regulations, the present status of NERC regulations, and how those regulations are evolving over time. By staying on top of these changes, Ulteig engineers can help utilities anticipate what’s ahead and better plan for the future.
“The benefits to utilities that Ulteig offers goes beyond staff augmentation,” noted Vejzovic. “Those in the field know that quality standards are incredibly specific. When it comes to meeting changing requirements, utilities are often more comfortable going to a consultant who has experience with the previous versions and can help interpret the new version. Even utilities with fully functioning compliance departments will come to us for assistance because the new standards can be very complicated. That expertise is something we are happy to bring to the table.”
Could your utility benefit from the support of Ulteig’s NERC compliance experts? Click here to learn more about Transmission Planning Services at Ulteig or contact us here with questions and inquiries.