NERC Standards: What’s Happening in Canada, Mexico and Beyond

by Shaun Rohret – NERC Reliability Specialist, NAES Corporation

As grid reliability becomes more of a focus internationally, NERC is leading the way, providing guidance and assistance to delegated organizations in other countries. Here are the latest developments beyond U. S. borders:

In Canada, NERC’s role is much the same as it is in the continental United States. However, the approval process for NERC Standards differs across the various Canadian provinces, and some of the Standards have been modified to reflect these jurisdictions’ operational needs. Authority over electric generation and transmission in Canada resides mainly with the provincial governments. While not all jurisdictions have an Electric Reliability Organization (ERO), they all recognize NERC as a standard-setting organization for electric reliability and have committed to support NERC in its oversight role for North America.

NERC has published summaries of each province’s standard-making and enforcement functions, which provide a good reference for cataloguing the differences across the provincial standards. They include details of the provinces’ electric reliability standard-making and enforcement functions and compare them with U. S. standards and governance. Developed by NERC’s Federal, Provincial and Territorial Monitoring and Enforcement Subgroup, the summaries are updated annually.

Recent energy reforms in Mexico have restructured the nation’s electricity industry, creating a competitive electricity market and new opportunities for private investment. These reforms have also changed the roles of two key organizations.

Tuxpan II, a NAES-operated combined-cycle gas
turbine facility in the state of Veracruz, Mexico

Comisión Reguladora de Energia (CRE), the federal energy regulator in Mexico, approved Resolución RES/151/2016 in 2016, establishing the nation’s first Grid Code (Codiga de Red) under the 2013-2014 reforms. These reforms delegated new responsibilities and authorities to CRE, including establishment of regulations for electric reliability and security. The Grid Code establishes criteria for ‘efficiency, quality, reliability, continuity, security and sustainability of the National Electric System’ and includes 10 NERC-like reliability standards aimed at ensuring coordination and safe operation.

The 2016 resolution requires CRE to update the new Grid Code annually for the first five years. In June 2016, NERC and WECC conducted a workshop for Mexican subject matter experts that gave them a comprehensive overview of NERC and WECC Reliability Standards to assist them in providing technical advice to CRE as it developed the second Grid Code.

Comisión Federal Electricidad (CFE), the government-owned utility, was formerly a vertically integrated organization. The 2013-2014 reforms, however, restructured it into separate generation, transmission and distribution units. Under an agreement with CFE, WECC has been monitoring CFE’s compliance with certain standards in the portion of Baja California Norte that is interconnected with California. Rules governing reliability of the National Electric System are expected to be issued soon.

Beyond North America
NERC signed an administrative agreement in July 2016 with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy (DG Energy) to collaborate on grid reliability. It recognizes the shared interest of NERC and DG Energy in ensuring grid reliability and the intent of both organizations to expand technical collaboration. Since executing this agreement, NERC and DG Energy have been consulting regularly and exchanging information pertaining to electric grid reliability.

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