Sunday, November 12, 2017

FERC’s New NOPR, Part I: More Time to Comply for Lows!

On October 19, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, stating that they intend to approve CIP-003-7, which was submitted to them early this year after a lively debate within NERC last year. To be honest, while I skimmed through this document when it came out, I haven’t had time to spend some quality time with it until this past weekend. And in doing so, I realized there are a few posts I should write about it. Here’s the first one.

Every time FERC has approved a new version of the CIP standards, they have taken the “yes, but…” approach. They approve the proposed standards, but then they order some improvements to them. Because the NERC Rules of Procedure don’t allow a standard to be modified once it has been approved by the NERC Board of Trustees – and this always happens to a proposed new standard before it is even submitted to FERC – these improvements always have to be addressed in a new version of the standard.

So it will be in this case. NERC will need to start work soon on drafting a new version of CIP-003 that will address FERC’s further mandate in this NOPR. Since the drafting team that developed CIP-003-7 is still meeting, I would think this will be added to their Standards Authorization Request (SAR), rather than NERC’s having to constitute a new SDT for this task. Meanwhile, FERC will almost certainly approve CIP-003-7[i], and that version will presumably come into effect before the new version of CIP-003 does (which I assume will be CIP-003-8).

Buried within the NOPR is an interesting notice. In section D paragraphs 45 and 46, FERC stated their intention to approve the CIP-003-7 Implementation Plan, which was of course approved and submitted with the proposed standard itself. That plan calls for an 18-month implementation period (after the date of FERC’s Order approving the CIP-003-7), but it also calls for the effective date of CIP-003-6, the currently-approved version, to be replaced with the CIP-003-7 effective date.

The effective date of CIP-003-6 is Sept. 1, 2018, but this will now be replaced by the effective date for CIP-003-7; moreover, on the effective date of CIP-003-7, CIP-003-6 will be “retired”. So what will be the effective date of CIP-003-7? Assuming FERC approves it in three months (it could be longer), and given that there’s an 18-month implementation period, this means that NERC entities won’t have to comply with CIP-003-7 (and specifically, Attachment 1 Sections 2 and 3, since the rest of the standard is unchanged from v6 and has already come into effect) until at least 21 months from now, or about July 2019. So NERC entities effectively have been given close to an additional year to implement specific controls on electronic and physical access at Low impact sites.

You may want to include the FERC Commissioners in your holiday card list. They’ve given you an early present.

The views and opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of any organization I work with. If you would like to comment on what you have read here, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at

[i] The NOPR just says they propose to approve it. If they had actually approved it, they would have issued an Order to do so. I am a little surprised that they wrote a NOPR rather than an Order, since they don’t seem to have any doubt that they will approve CIP-003-7. It may be that, given that the Commissioners are all new except for one (Commissioner LaFleur) and therefore only one of them approved Order 822 (which ordered this change), they want to gather some new comments to confirm that they should approve it.

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