[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 57 (Thursday, March 24, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 15635-15641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06508]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

18 CFR Part 40

[Docket No. RM15-8-000; Order No. 823]


Relay Performance During Stable Power Swings Reliability Standard

AGENCY:  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DOE.

ACTION:  Final rule.

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SUMMARY:  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1 (Relay Performance During Stable Power Swings), 
submitted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 is designed to ensure that applicable 
entities use protective relay systems that can differentiate between 
faults and stable power swings.

DATES:  This rule will become effective May 23, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
Kenneth Hubona (Technical Information), Office of Electric Reliability, 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, 
DC 20426, (301) 665-1608, [email protected].
Kevin Ryan (Legal Information), Office of the General Counsel, Federal 
Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 
20426, (202) 502-6840, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Order No. 823

Final Rule

    1. Pursuant to section 215 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), the 
Commission approves Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 (Relay Performance 
During Stable Power Swings).\1\ The North American Electric Reliability 
Corporation (NERC), the Commission-certified Electric Reliability 
Organization (ERO), developed and submitted Reliability Standard PRC-
026-1 for Commission approval. Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 applies 
to planning coordinators and to generator owners and transmission 
owners that apply certain load-responsive protective relays in 
specific, identified circumstances. Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 is 
designed to ensure the use of protective relay systems that can 
differentiate between faults and stable power swings.
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    \1\ 16 U.S.C. 824o.
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    2. The Commission determines that Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 
satisfies the directive in Order No. 733 concerning undesirable relay 
operation due to power swings.\2\ The Commission concludes that 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 provides an equally effective and 
efficient alternative to the Order No. 733 directive requiring the use 
of protective relay systems that can differentiate between faults and 
stable power swings and, when necessary, retirement of protective relay 
systems that cannot meet this requirement.\3\
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    \2\ Transmission Relay Loadability Reliability Standard, Order 
No. 733, 130 FERC ] 61,221, at P 153 (2010), order on reh'g and 
clarification, Order No. 733-A, 134 FERC ] 61,127, order on reh'g 
and clarification, Order No. 733-B, 136 FERC ] 61,185 (2011).
    \3\ Id. P 150.
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    3. The Commission approves NERC's assigned violation risk factors, 
violation

[[Page 15636]]

severity levels and implementation plan.

I. Background

A. Mandatory Reliability Standards and Order No. 733 Directives

    4. Section 215 of the FPA requires a Commission-certified ERO to 
develop mandatory and enforceable Reliability Standards, subject to 
Commission review and approval.\4\ Pursuant to section 215 of the FPA, 
the Commission established a process to select and certify an ERO,\5\ 
and subsequently certified NERC.\6\
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    \4\ 16 U.S.C. 824(d) and (e).
    \5\ Rules Concerning Certification of the Electric Reliability 
Organization; and Procedures for the Establishment, Approval, and 
Enforcement of Electric Reliability Standards, Order No. 672, FERC 
Stats. & Regs. ] 31,204, order on reh'g, Order No. 672-A, FERC 
Stats. & Regs. ] 31,212 (2006).
    \6\ North American Electric Reliability Corp., 116 FERC ] 
61,062, order on reh'g and compliance, 117 FERC ] 61,126 (2006), 
aff'd sub nom. Alcoa, Inc. v. FERC, 564 F.3d 1342 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
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    5. On March 18, 2010, the Commission approved Reliability Standard 
PRC-023-1 (Transmission Relay Loadability) in Order No. 733. The 
Commission also directed NERC to develop a new Reliability Standard 
that required the use of protective relay systems that can 
differentiate between faults and stable power swings and, when 
necessary, the retirement of protective relay systems that cannot meet 
this requirement.\7\ In Order No. 733, the Commission cited the 
findings of both NERC and the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task 
Force on the causes of the 2003 Northeast Blackout, explaining that the 
cascade during this event was accelerated by zone 2 and zone 3 relays 
that tripped facilities out of service because these devices could not 
distinguish between a dynamic, but stable, power swing and an actual 
fault.\8\ While the Commission recognized that addressing stable power 
swings is a complex issue, Order No. 733 observed that there was no 
Reliability Standard to address relays tripping for stable power swings 
despite their contribution to the 2003 Northeast Blackout. Accordingly, 
the Commission directed NERC to develop a Reliability Standard to 
address undesirable relay operation due to stable power swings.\9\
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    \7\ Order No. 733, 130 FERC ] 61,221 at P 150.
    \8\ Id. PP 3-4, 130 (citing U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task 
Force, Final Report on the August 14, 2003 Blackout in the United 
States and Canada: Causes and Recommendations, at 80 (2004); and 
August 14, 2003 Blackout: NERC Actions to Prevent and Mitigate the 
Impacts of Future Cascading Blackouts, at 13 (2004)).
    \9\ Id. P 153.
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    6. On February 17, 2011, the Commission denied rehearing in Order 
No. 733-A, stating that ``[w]e continue to believe that not addressing 
stable power swings constitutes a gap in the current Reliability 
Standards and must be addressed.'' \10\ Accordingly, the Commission 
affirmed the directive in Order No. 733 that NERC develop a Reliability 
Standard addressing stable power swings.\11\ The Commission clarified 
that it did not require a Reliability Standard containing an absolute 
obligation to prevent protection relays from operating unnecessarily 
during stable power swings or an across-the-board elimination of all 
zone 3 relays; the Commission only required the development of a 
Reliability Standard that addresses protection systems that are 
vulnerable to stable power swings (resulting from Category B and 
Category C contingencies from the NERC Planning Standards in place at 
that time) that result in inappropriate tripping.\12\ In Order No. 733-
B, the Commission denied further clarification on this issue.
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    \10\ Order No. 733-A, 134 FERC ] 61,127 at P 104.
    \11\ Id.
    \12\ Id. P 107.
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B. NERC Petition and Reliability Standard PRC-026-1

    7. On December 31, 2014, NERC submitted a petition seeking approval 
of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1, as well as the associated violation 
risk factors, violation severity levels and implementation plan.\13\ 
NERC avers that Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 satisfies the Order No. 
733 directive to develop a new Reliability Standard that requires the 
use of protective relay systems that can differentiate between faults 
and stable power swings. According to NERC, Reliability Standard PRC-
026-1 sets forth requirements that prevent the unnecessary tripping of 
bulk electric system elements in response to stable power swings.\14\ 
NERC further explains that the identification of bulk electric system 
elements with protection systems at-risk of operating as a result of a 
stable or unstable power swing and the subsequent review by the 
applicable generator owner or transmission owner ``provides assurance 
that relays will continue to be secure for stable power swings if any 
changes in system impedance occur.''\15\
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    \13\ Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 is available on the 
Commission's eLibrary document retrieval system in Docket No. RM15-
8-000 and on the NERC Web site, www.nerc.com.
    \14\ See NERC Petition at 4.
    \15\ Id.
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    8. According to NERC, Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 is ``directly 
responsive'' to the Order No. 733 directive that NERC develop a 
Reliability Standard addressing undesirable relay operation due to 
stable power swings.\16\ However, NERC explains that the Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1 ``includes an alternative to the Commission's 
approach to require `the use of protective relay systems that can 
differentiate between faults and stable power swings and, when 
necessary, phases out protective relay systems that cannot meet this 
requirement.' '' \17\ NERC notes that in Order No. 733-A, the 
Commission clarified that it had not intended ``to prohibit NERC from 
exercising its technical expertise to develop a solution to an 
identified reliability concern that is equally effective and efficient 
as the one proposed in Order No. 733.'' \18\ In support of its 
alternative solution, NERC states that ``it is generally preferable to 
emphasize dependability over security when it is not possible to ensure 
both for all possible system conditions.'' \19\ NERC also avers that 
``[p]rohibiting use of certain types of relays, such as those 
protective relay systems that cannot differentiate between faults and 
stable power swings, may have unintended negative outcomes for Bulk-
Power System reliability.'' \20\
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    \16\ Id. at 23 (citing Order No. 733, 130 FERC ] 61,221 at P 
153).
    \17\ Id. (quoting Order No. 733, 130 FERC ] 61,221 at P 162).
    \18\ Id. at 11 (citing Order No. 733-A, 134 FERC ] 61,127 at P 
11).
    \19\ Id. at 24.
    \20\ Id.
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    9. Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 has four requirements and two 
attachments. NERC explains that Attachment A ``provides clarity on 
which load-responsive protective relay functions are applicable'' under 
the standard.\21\ Specifically, Attachment A provides that Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1 applies to:
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    \21\ Id. at 31.

any protective functions which could trip instantaneously or with a 
time delay of less than 15 cycles on load current (i.e., ``load-
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responsive''). . . .

    According to NERC, the 15 cycle time delay ``is representative of 
an expected power swing having a slow slip rate of 0.67 Hertz (Hz) and 
is the average time that a stable power swing with that slip rate would 
enter the relay's characteristic, reverse direction, and then exit the 
characteristic before the time delay expired.'' \22\ NERC states that 
the proposed standard does not apply to ``functions that are either 
immune to power swings, block power swings, or prevent non-immune 
protection function operation due to supervision of

[[Page 15637]]

the function.'' \23\ Attachment B contains the criteria for the 
evaluation of load-responsive protective relays that are within the 
scope of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.\24\
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    \22\ Id. at 30.
    \23\ Id. at 31.
    \24\ See id. at 35-38.
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    10. Under NERC's proposed implementation plan for Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1, Requirement R1 would become effective 12 months 
after Commission approval, and Requirements R2, R3 and R4 become 
effective 36 months after Commission approval.

C. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    11. On September 17, 2015, the Commission issued a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to approve Reliability Standard 
PRC-026-1 as just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or 
preferential and in the public interest.\25\ The NOPR stated that 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 appears to adequately address the 
Commission's directive in Order No. 733 by helping to prevent the 
unnecessary tripping of bulk electric system elements in response to 
stable power swings. The NOPR also proposed to accept NERC's proposed 
approach as an equally effective and efficient method to achieve the 
reliability goal underlying the Commission's Order No. 733 directive.
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    \25\ Relay Performance During Stable Power Swings Reliability 
Standard, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 80 FR 57549 (Sept. 24, 
2015), 152 FERC ] 61,200 (2015).
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    12. In the NOPR, the Commission also expressed concern that NERC's 
exclusion of load responsive relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or 
greater, as proposed in Attachment A to Reliability Standard PRC-026-1, 
could result in a gap in reliability. The Commission explained that, 
pursuant to Attachment A, Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 applies to 
``any protective functions which could trip instantaneously or with a 
time delay of less than 15 cycles on load current (i.e., ``load-
responsive''). . . .'' The Commission further explained that, although 
NERC offered a technical rationale for the less than 15 cycle 
threshold, explaining that load-responsive relays set to trip 
instantaneously or with a ``slight time delay'' are most susceptible to 
power swings, NERC did not supply information on the burden of 
including relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater under 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.\26\ The Commission stated that the lack 
of this information is significant in light of the fact that an entity 
would not be required under Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to 
investigate an element identified by a planning coordinator as 
potentially susceptible to power swings or investigate an element 
following a known power swing trip if the relay(s) involved have a time 
delay of 15 cycles or greater.\27\
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    \26\ See NOPR, 152 FERC ] 61,200 at P 14 (citing NERC Petition 
at 29-30).
    \27\ Id.
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    13. The NOPR requested comments on the potential burden of 
modifying the applicability of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to 
include relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater in instances 
where either: (1) An element has been identified by a planning 
coordinator as potentially susceptible to power swings; or (2) an 
entity becomes aware of a bulk electric system element that tripped in 
response to a stable or unstable power swing due to the operation of 
its protective relay(s), even if the element was not previously 
identified by the planning coordinator. The Commission stated that it 
may direct NERC to develop modifications to Reliability Standard PRC-
026-1 depending on the response to the questions on the applicability 
of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.
    14. In response to the NOPR, seven entities submitted comments. A 
list of commenters appears in Appendix A. The comments have informed 
our decision making in this Final Rule.

II. Discussion

    15. Pursuant to section 215(d)(2) of the FPA, we approve 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 as just, reasonable, not unduly 
discriminatory or preferential, and in the public interest. We also 
approve NERC's proposed violation risk factors, violation severity 
levels and implementation plan. While Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 
does not prohibit the use of relays that cannot differentiate between 
faults and stable power swings, Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 
addresses the prevention of unnecessary tripping of bulk electric 
system elements in response to stable power swings. Accordingly, we 
approve NERC's approach as an equally effective and efficient method to 
achieve the reliability goal underlying the Commission's directive in 
Order No. 733.
    16. As discussed below, based on the NOPR comments, we conclude 
that the potential reliability gap identified in the NOPR, resulting 
from the exclusion of load responsive relays with a time delay of 15 
cycles or greater as proposed in Attachment A to Reliability Standard 
PRC-026-1, is adequately addressed by the provisions of Reliability 
Standards TPL-001-4 and PRC-004-4.\28\
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    \28\ As of January 1, 2016, all requirements of Reliability 
Standard TPL-001-4 are subject to enforcement. Reliability Standard 
PRC-004-4 was approved May 29, 2015 and will be subject to 
enforcement July 1, 2016.
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Load Responsive Relays With a Delay of 15 Cycles or Greater

Comments
    17. NERC, Luminant, NAGF, Tri-State, Idaho Power and EEI support 
the Commission's proposal to approve Reliability Standard PRC-026-1. In 
response to the NOPR's question regarding the burden of expanding the 
applicability of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to include load 
responsive relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater, NERC and 
other commenters offer two responses. First, commenters maintain that 
the 15 cycle limitation in Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 does not 
result in a reliability gap because of how Reliability Standard PRC-
026-1 interacts with other Reliability Standards to address the 
Commission's concern. Second, commenters assert that expanding the 
applicability of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 would result in an 
unnecessary, significant burden or risk to reliability.
    18. NERC, EEI, Tri-State and Luminant claim that no reliability gap 
results from the 15 cycle limitation in Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 
because planning assessments required by Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 
already address the Commission's concerns regarding relays with a time 
delay of 15 cycles or greater in instances where an element has been 
identified by a planning coordinator as potentially susceptible to 
power swings.\29\ Specifically, NERC explains that a planning 
assessment conducted pursuant to Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 ``will 
reveal Elements with load-responsive protective relays having time 
delays of 15 cycles or greater that trip due to power swings.'' \30\ 
NERC further contends that, where an element that trips causes a 
violation of Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 performance criteria, ``the 
Planning Coordinator is required to mitigate these conditions through a 
Corrective Action Plan.'' \31\ EEI agrees with NERC's assessment and 
identifies Reliability Standard TPL-001-4, Requirement R4, Subpart 
4.1.2 and Requirement R2, Subpart 2.7 as the corresponding 
requirements.\32\
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    \29\ NERC Comments at 5-6. See also Tri-State Comments at 4; 
Luminant Comments at 3.
    \30\ NERC Comments at 6.
    \31\ Id.
    \32\ EEI Comments at 7.

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[[Page 15638]]

    19. In addition, NERC and industry commenters state that 
Reliability Standard PRC-004-4 addresses the Commission's concern 
regarding situations where a bulk electric system element trips in 
response to a stable or unstable power swing due to the operation of 
its protective relay(s).\33\ Specifically, NERC explains that tripping 
unnecessarily ``due to an actual stable power swing would be classified 
as a Misoperation under PRC-004-4 (Protection System Misoperation 
Identification and Correction).'' \34\ NERC explains that a ``Generator 
Owner and Transmission Owner are required to develop a corrective 
action plan to address the cause(s) of the Misoperation, for example, 
tripping due to a load-responsive protective relay set with a time 
delay of 15 cycles or greater, unless reliability would not be 
improved.'' \35\
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    \33\ NERC Comments at 9-10. See also EEI Comments at 8; Tri-
State Comments at 5.
    \34\ NERC Comments at 9.
    \35\ Id.
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    20. Regarding the potential burden of expanding the applicability 
of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to cover relays with a time delay of 
15 cycles or greater, NERC and industry commenters state that expanding 
the applicability of Requirement R1, Criteria 4 (element has been 
identified by a planning coordinator) would increase the burden on 
transmission owners and generator owners.\36\ NERC states that there 
would be no increase in burden for the planning coordinator because the 
planning coordinator is required by Reliability Standard TPL-001-4, 
Requirement R4 ``to perform contingency analyses based on computer 
simulation models for the Stability portion of the annual Planning 
Assessment.'' \37\ As noted above, NERC explains that where an element 
that trips during the annual planning assessment causes a violation of 
Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 performance criteria, ``the Planning 
Coordinator is required to mitigate these conditions through a 
Corrective Action Plan.'' \38\
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    \36\ See id. at 7, 9. See also EEI Comments at 6; Luminant 
Comments at 4; Idaho Power Comments at 2.
    \37\ NERC Comments at 5.
    \38\ Id.
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    21. NERC, however, states that expanding the applicability of 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to cover relays with a time delay of 15 
cycles or greater would ``place additional burden on the Generator 
Owner and Transmission Owner for any Elements that are identified using 
Requirement R1, Criteria 4.'' \39\ NERC explains that the additional 
burden ``would be determined by the increase in the quantity of load-
responsive protective relays applied to that Element beyond what is 
proposed in PRC-026-1 (i.e. load-responsive protective relays with time 
delays of 15 cycles or greater).'' NERC continues that the ``increase 
in burden could be on the order of two to three times in magnitude to 
address zone 2 (not communication-aided) and application of reverse 
zone and/or forward zone 4 remote back-up time delayed elements.'' \40\
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    \39\ Id. at 6.
    \40\ Id. at 7.
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    22. EEI contends that the additional burden would ``vary greatly by 
entity size and asset configuration, however, the work associated with 
this effort would not be inconsequential and would consume significant 
dollars for large entities while tying up critical and often scarce 
engineering resources across the industry.'' \41\ EEI explains that 
even though the Commission proposes to limit the analysis to the two 
scenarios identified in the NOPR, the proposal would increase the 
number of relay elements evaluated by 100 to 200 percent at impacted 
transmission lines, generators and transformer terminals.\42\
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    \41\ EEI Comments at 6.
    \42\ Id.
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    23. ITC, while not taking a position on the merits of the 
particular requirements of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1, argues 
``that studies and information now available concerning relay 
performance during stable power swings controvert the Commission's at-
the-time reasonable determination in Order No. 733 that a Standard to 
address relay performance during stable power swings was warranted.'' 
\43\ In particular, ITC ``urge[s] the Commission to consider the [NERC 
System Protection and Control Subcommittee] Report findings in issuing 
its final rule in this proceeding.'' \44\ ITC asserts that the SPSC 
Report undercuts the rationale for promulgating Reliability Standard 
PRC-026-1 and argues that ``the Commission should reconsider the 
necessity of PRC-026-1, particularly in light of the burden NERC has 
determined the new Standard would impose.'' \45\
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    \43\ ITC Comments at 3.
    \44\ Id. (referencing NERC System Protection and Control 
Subcommittee, ``Protection System Response to Power Swings'' (2013) 
(SPSC Report)).
    \45\ Id. at 4.
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Commission Determination

    24. We find that Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 addresses the 
Commission's directive in Order No. 733 by providing measures to 
mitigate the unnecessary tripping of bulk electric system elements in 
response to stable power swings. While it does not prohibit the use of 
relays that cannot differentiate between faults and stable power 
swings, we conclude that Reliability Standard PRC-026-1's approach is 
an equally effective and efficient method to achieve the reliability 
goal underlying the Commission's directive in Order No. 733.
    25. While ITC asks that the Commission reconsider the necessity of 
PRC-026-1 in light of the SPSC Report, the Commission continues to 
believe in the necessity of a Reliability Standard that addresses the 
performance of relays during stable power swings. In response to ITC's 
comments, the recommendations from the 2013 SPSC Report were used in 
the development of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1. As noted by NERC, 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 ``is based on and is consistent with the 
recommendations found in the [SPSC] Report.'' \46\ Accordingly, we 
conclude that Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 reflects the 
recommendations outlined in the SPSC Report.
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    \46\ NERC Petition at 15-16.
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    26. Based on the NOPR comments, we are persuaded that the potential 
reliability gap identified in the NOPR, resulting from the exclusion of 
load responsive relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater as 
proposed in Attachment A to Reliability Standard PRC-026-1, is 
adequately addressed by requirements of Reliability Standards TPL-001-4 
(Transmission System Planning Performance Standards) and PRC-004-4 
(Protection System Misoperation Identification and Correction). We 
agree with commenters that these Reliability Standards adequately 
address the risk posed by load responsive relays with a time delay of 
15 cycles or greater in the two cases identified in the NOPR. 
Accordingly, we do not direct any modifications to Reliability Standard 
PRC-026-1 at this time.
    27. First, where an element has been identified by a planning 
coordinator as potentially susceptible to power swings, Reliability 
Standard TPL-001-4 addresses the NOPR's concern by requiring applicable 
entities to both (1) identify elements with load-responsive protective 
relays having time delays of 15 cycles or greater that trip due to 
power swings and (2) mitigate through a corrective action plan where 
Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 performance criteria are not met. 
Specifically, Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 sets forth the parameters 
for

[[Page 15639]]

certain studies associated with the annual planning assessment that are 
intended to identify, among other things, situations where a 
transmission system element trips due to an impedance swing resulting 
from a generator pulling out of synchronization.\47\ An element that 
trips due to the criteria in Requirement R4, Subpart 4.1.2 fails to 
meet the performance requirements in Table 1 of Reliability Standard 
TPL-001-4. When an element fails to meet the performance requirements 
in Table 1, the planning coordinator is required to develop a 
``Corrective Action Plan(s) addressing how the performance requirements 
will be met.'' \48\ Therefore, Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 addresses 
the concerns raised in the NOPR regarding the exclusion of load 
responsive relays with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater from 
Requirement R1 of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.
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    \47\ See Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 (Transmission System 
Planning Performance Requirements), Requirement R4, Subpart 4.1.2.
    \48\ Id., Requirement R2, Subpart 2.7.
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    28. Second, where an entity becomes aware of a bulk electric system 
element that tripped in response to a stable or unstable power swing 
due to the operation of its protective relay(s), we agree with 
commenters that the tripping would be classified as a misoperation 
under Reliability Standard PRC-004-4.\49\ Therefore, the generator 
owner or transmission owner would be required to develop a corrective 
action plan to address the cause(s) of the misoperation, which in this 
case would be tripping due to a load-responsive protective relay set 
with a time delay of 15 cycles or greater, unless the transmission 
owner or generation owner ``explains in a declaration why corrective 
action plans are beyond the entity's control or would not improve BES 
reliability.'' \50\ Specifically, Reliability Standard PRC-004-4 
requires entities to investigate and mitigate, through a corrective 
action plan, any misoperation.\51\ A misoperation under Reliability 
Standard PRC-004-4 includes, in pertinent part, unnecessary trips for 
non-fault conditions resulting from power swings.\52\ Therefore, 
Reliability Standard PRC-004-4 addresses the concerns raised in the 
NOPR regarding the exclusion of load responsive relays with a time 
delay of 15 cycles or greater from Requirement R2, Part 2.2 of 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.
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    \49\ See, e.g., NERC Comments at 9-10, EEI Comments at 8.
    \50\ Reliability Standard PRC-004-4 (Protection System 
Misoperation and Correction), Requirement R5.
    \51\ See id.
    \52\ Id., Application Guidelines at 22.
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    29. Finally, concerns with the potential burden of expanding the 
applicability of Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 to cover relays with a 
time delay of 15 cycles or greater in order to address the potential 
reliability gap identified in the NOPR are moot given our determination 
above that the potential reliability gap identified in the NOPR is 
adequately addressed by existing Reliability Standard requirements.

III. Information Collection Statement

    30. The FERC-725G \53\ information collection requirements 
contained in this Final Rule are subject to review by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) regulations under section 3507(d) of the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA).\54\ OMB's regulations require 
approval of certain informational collection requirements imposed by 
agency rules.\55\ Upon approval of a collection(s) of information, OMB 
will assign an OMB control number and an expiration date. Respondents 
subject to the filing requirements of a rule will not be penalized for 
failing to respond to these collections of information unless the 
collections of information display a valid OMB control number.
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    \53\ The requirements in the RM15-8-000 NOPR were submitted to 
OMB within FERC-725G3 (OMB Control Number 1902-0285). FERC-725G3 is 
a temporary collection that enabled timely submission to OMB. The 
requirements are now being submitted to the information collection 
intended for these requirements, specifically FERC-725G (OMB Control 
No. 1902-0252).
    \54\ 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).
    \55\ 5 CFR 1320.11.
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    31. The Commission solicited comments on the need for this 
information, whether the information will have practical utility, the 
accuracy of the burden estimates, ways to enhance the quality, utility, 
and clarity of the information to be collected or retained, and any 
suggested methods for minimizing respondents' burden, including the use 
of automated information techniques. Specifically, the Commission asked 
that any revised burden or cost estimates submitted by commenters be 
supported by sufficient detail to understand how the estimates are 
generated. The Commission did not receive any comments on the estimates 
in the NOPR.
    Public Reporting Burden: The Commission approves Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1. Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 will impose new 
requirements for the notification of particular bulk electric system 
elements from planning coordinator to generator owners and 
transmissions owners based on given criteria. Generator owners and 
transmissions owner will evaluate those bulk electric system elements 
and load-responsive protective relay(s) according to Attachment B 
criteria and, if a load-responsive protective relay does not meet the 
Attachment B criteria, the generator owner/transmission owner must 
develop a corrective action plan. Our estimate below regarding the 
number of respondents is based on the NERC Compliance Registry as of 
June 26, 2015. According to the NERC Compliance Registry, NERC has 
registered 318 transmission owners, 884 generator owners, and 68 
planning coordinators. However, under NERC's compliance registration 
program, entities may be registered for multiple functions, so these 
numbers incorporate some double counting. The total number of unique 
entities that may be identified as a notification provider (e.g. 
applicable entity) in accordance with proposed Reliability Standard 
PRC-026-1 will be approximately 1,074 entities registered in the United 
States as a transmission owner and/or generator owner. The total number 
of unique entities that may be identified as evidence retention 
entities (e.g. applicable entity) in accordance with proposed 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 will be approximately 1,092 entities 
registered in the United States as a transmission owner, generator 
owner and/or planning coordinator. The Commission estimates the annual 
reporting burden and cost as follows:

[[Page 15640]]



                                      RM15-8-000 (Mandatory Reliability Standards--Reliability Standard PRC-026-1)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                           Total annual
                                                             Number of     Annual number   Total number   Average burden  burden hours &     Cost per
                                                            respondents    of responses    of responses     & cost per     total annual   respondent ($)
                                                                          per respondent                     response          cost
                                                                     (1)             (2)     (1) * (2) =             (4)     (3) * (4) =       (5) / (1)
                                                                                                     (3)                             (5)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notifications to GO/TO per Requirement R1...............           1,074               1           1,074      8, $485.28           8,592         $485.28
                                                                                                                    \56\        $521,191
Evidence Retention GO/TO/PC.............................           1,092               1           1,092     12, $450.00          13,104          450.00
                                                                                                                    \57\        $491,400
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................  ..............  ..............           2,166  ..............          21,696  ..............
                                                                                                                              $1,012,591
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Title: FERC-725G, Mandatory Reliability Standards: Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \56\ The estimates for cost per response are derived using the 
following formula:
    Average Burden Hours per Response * $60.66 per Hour = Average 
Cost per Response. The hourly average of $60.66 assumes equal time 
is spent by the manager, electrical engineer, and information and 
record clerk. The average hourly cost (salary plus benefits) is: 
$37.50 for information and record clerks (occupation code 43-4199), 
$78.04 for a manager (occupation code 11-0000), and $66.45 for an 
electrical engineer (occupation code 17-2071). (The figures are 
taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 figures at 
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics2_22.htm.)
    \57\ The average hourly cost (salary plus benefits) is $37.50. 
The BLS wage category code is 34-4199. This figure is also taken 
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 figures at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics2_22.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Action: Collection of Information.
    OMB Control No: 1902-0252.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit and not-for-profit 
institutions.
    Frequency of Responses: One time and on-going.
    Necessity of the Information: Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 will 
implement the Congressional mandate of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to 
develop mandatory and enforceable Reliability Standards to better 
ensure the reliability of the nation's Bulk-Power System. Specifically, 
the Reliability Standard will address undesirable relay operation due 
to power swings.
    32. Internal review: The Commission has reviewed the requirements 
pertaining to the Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 and made a 
determination that the requirements of this standard are necessary to 
implement section 215 of the FPA. These requirements conform to the 
Commission's plan for efficient information collection, communication 
and management within the energy industry. The Commission has assured 
itself, by means of its internal review, that there is specific, 
objective support for the burden estimates associated with the 
information requirements.
    33. Interested persons may obtain information on the reporting 
requirements by contacting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 
Office of the Executive Director, 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 
20426 [Attention: Ellen Brown, email: [email protected], phone: 
(202) 502-8663, fax: (202) 273-0873].
    34. Comments concerning the information collections approved in 
this Final Rule and the associated burden estimates, should be sent to 
the Commission in this docket and may also be sent to the Office of 
Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs 
[Attention: Desk Officer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 
phone: (202) 395-0710, fax: (202) 395-7285]. For security reasons, 
comments should be sent by email to OMB at the following email address: 
[email protected]. Please reference the docket number of this 
Final Rule (Docket No. RM15-8-000) in your submission.

IV. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    35. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) \58\ generally 
requires a description and analysis of this Final Rule that will have 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 sets forth requirements that prevent the 
unnecessary tripping of bulk electric system elements in response to 
stable power swings. As shown in the information collection section, an 
estimated 1,092 entities are expected to evaluate bulk electric system 
elements and load-responsive protective relay(s) according to 
Attachment B criteria of PRC-026-1. Comparison of the applicable 
entities with the Commission's small business data indicates that 
approximately 661 are small entities \59\ or 60.53 percent of the 
respondents affected by Reliability Standard PRC-026-1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \58\ 5 U.S.C. 601-612.
    \59\ The Small Business Administration sets the threshold for 
what constitutes a small business. Public utilities may fall under 
one of several different categories, each with a size threshold 
based on the company's number of employees, including affiliates, 
the parent company, and subsidiaries. For the analysis in this rule, 
we apply a 500 employee threshold for each affected entity. Each 
entity is classified as Electric Bulk Power Transmission and Control 
(NAICS code 221121).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    36. As discussed above, Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 will serve 
to enhance reliability by imposing mandatory requirements governing 
generator relay loadability, thereby reducing the likelihood of 
premature or unnecessary tripping of generators during system 
disturbances. The Commission estimates that each of the small entities 
to whom the Reliability Standard PRC-026-1 applies will incur paperwork 
and record retention costs of $935.28 per entity (annual ongoing).
    37. The Commission does not consider the estimated costs per small 
entity to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. Accordingly, the Commission certifies that Reliability 
Standard PRC-026-1 will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, no regulatory 
flexibility analysis is required.

V. Environmental Analysis

    38. The Commission is required to prepare an Environmental 
Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement for any action that may 
have a significant adverse effect on the human environment.\60\ The 
Commission has categorically excluded certain actions from this 
requirement as not having a significant effect on the human 
environment. Included in the exclusion are rules that are clarifying, 
corrective,

[[Page 15641]]

or procedural or that do not substantially change the effect of the 
regulations being amended.\61\ The actions herein fall within this 
categorical exclusion in the Commission's regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ Regulations Implementing the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, Order No. 486, FERC Stats. & Regs. ] 30,783 (1987).
    \61\ 18 CFR 380.4(a)(2)(ii) (2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

VI. Effective Date and Congressional Notification

    39. This Final Rule is effective May 23, 2016. The Commission has 
determined, with the concurrence of the Administrator of the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB, that this rule is not a 
``major rule'' as defined in section 351 of the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This Final Rule is being 
submitted to the Senate, House, and Government Accountability Office.

VII. Document Availability

    40. In addition to publishing the full text of this document in the 
Federal Register, the Commission provides all interested persons an 
opportunity to view and/or print the contents of this document via the 
Internet through the Commission's Home Page (http://www.ferc.gov) and 
in the Commission's Public Reference Room during normal business hours 
(8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time) at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, 
Washington, DC 20426.
    41. From the Commission's Home Page on the Internet, this 
information is available on eLibrary. The full text of this document is 
available on eLibrary in PDF and Microsoft Word format for viewing, 
printing, and/or downloading. To access this document in eLibrary, type 
the docket number of this document, excluding the last three digits, in 
the docket number field.
    42. User assistance is available for eLibrary and the Commission's 
Web site during normal business hours from the Commission's Online 
Support at 202-502-6652 (toll free at 1-866-208-3676) or email at 
[email protected], or the Public Reference Room at (202) 502-
8371, TTY (202) 502-8659. Email the Public Reference Room at 
[email protected].

    By the Commission.

    Issued: March 17, 2016.
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr.,
Deputy Secretary.

    Note: The following Appendix will not appear in the Code of 
Federal Regulations.

Appendix

                               Commenters
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Abbreviation                          Commenter
------------------------------------------------------------------------
EEI..................................  Edison Electric Institute.
Idaho Power..........................  Idaho Power Company.
ITC..................................  International Transmission
                                        Company.
Luminant.............................  Luminant Generation Company LLC.
NERC.................................  North American Electric
                                        Reliability Corporation.
NAGF.................................  North American Generator Forum.
Tri-State............................  Tri-State Generation and
                                        Transmission Association, Inc.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. 2016-06508 Filed 3-23-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6717-01-P