Monday, August 12, 2013

FERC’s Extension of Time for CIP Version 4

All opinions expressed herein are mine, not necessarily those of Honeywell International, Inc.

September 2: I have moved away from my view that Version 6 will likely be the next CIP version NERC entities have to comply with.  As usual, it's quite complicated.  You can read all about it here.

Today, August 12, FERC approved a petition by the trade organizations to extend the compliance date for CIP Version 4 for six months, from April 1 to October 1, 2014.  Several people have emailed me to ask why they did this.  Chairman Wellinghoff isn’t returning my calls lately, but this is the scenario I see:

  1. FERC’s April NOPR on CIP Version 5 made it clear they don’t intend to let V4 come into effect.  They propose to do that by approving V5 before April 1, 2014, which will stop the clock on V4.  I doubt they have changed this intention at all.
  2. However, they were receiving reports that this wasn’t good enough for some legal departments; since there was a FERC order saying V4 would come into effect and no order contradicting that, these departments – at large IOU’s – felt they had no choice but to keep plowing ahead on V4 (and a series of posts I recently did describing how one entity was still being forced by their lawyers to keep spending money on V4 compliance may have added to this perception.  Never doubt the power of the press!).
  3. NERC had also made it clear they weren’t going to do or say anything that might make these lawyers happy.  Technically, of course, there is nothing they could do or say at this point that would provide perfect legal cover for the lawyers – the whole matter is in FERC’s hands now, from a legal point of view.
  4. Meanwhile, the trade organizations petitioned to push back the V4 compliance date.  Today, FERC jumped on that opportunity to reiterate that they have no intention of letting V4 come into effect.
At first, I had the idea that maybe this meant FERC was planning on taking a lot more time to approve V5 (and order changes in it, as I and many others believe will happen.  The changed version will most likely be V6, of course); an Interested Party by whom I often run these things takes that point of view.  Since NERC seems to believe FERC will approve V5 this fall, this would mean that FERC has decided they need at least another 6 months to think about it before they act on V5 - so the approval date probably won't be until the third quarter of 2014.

This is possible (since when they approve V5 they will have to have worked out exactly what changes they want to order NERC to make, and that's no small job), but I doubt it.  I think this is all part of the new “Friendly Neighborhood Regulator” image that FERC is trying very hard to portray to the industry.  Nothing wrong with that, of course!

We're well over 500 signups, but you can still register for the EnergySec / Honeywell webinar on CIP Version 5 on August 21.  Here are the details and registration link.  If you can't attend this, sign up anyway in order to receive the link to the recording when it is available soon after the webinar.

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