Changing of the Guard: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

–PRC-001 set to retire, but its replacements may be more stringent

William Boulware, NERC Reliability Specialist, NERC Services

NERC Reliability Standard PRC-001 is set to retire September 30, 2020 and two new standards, PER-006-1 and PRC-027-1, are set to take its place. PER-006 is designed to address requirement R1 of PRC-001 in further detail. PRC-027 is designed to address requirements R3 and R4 of PRC-001. The two new standards drive Generator Operators to develop a deeper understanding of their Protection Systems and Remedial Action Schemes (RAS). Generator Owners, Transmission Owners, and Distribution Providers which meet the criteria of the standard are now responsible to develop a process dictating how new and revised Protection System settings for BES elements are developed, coordinated, and implemented.

PER-006 will require Generator Operators to ensure personnel are trained on the operational functionality of Protection Systems and RAS that affect the output of the generating facility it operates. The standard defines plant personnel as those who control a generator and receive Operating Instructions in Real-time. The standard does not define a periodicity for the training. The standard is only concerned with those protection systems that are related to the electrical output of the generator. While PRC-001, R1 requires Generator Operators ensure that personnel are familiar with the purpose and limitation of protection systems, training has not been specifically required until the inception of this new standard, although some entities have already been doing so.

One good practice to consider is to provide annual training as well as an annual review of the training material to ensure that any changes made to the Protection System or RAS are captured. The training material should be facility specific to provide operators with knowledge needed for reaction to changing operating conditions of the generating units they are responsible for.

PRC-027 defines the coordination of protection systems differently than PRC-001 currently requires. The new standard expects applicable entities to implement a process for developing new and revised Protection System settings. This is to ensure the fault currents that effect the BES element are reviewed to determine the appropriate setting, the proposed setting change is shared with the Owners of the electrically joined facility, and coordination is established.

To ensure coordination, the standard provides three options in requirement R2.
Option one, an entity can choose to perform a Protection System Coordination Study once every six years.
Option two, an entity could choose to reference an established Fault current baseline.
Option three allows an entity to use a combination of the two previous options.
Options one and two both have six-year maximum time intervals. This interval begins on the effective date of PRC-027.  Entities using Option 2 for their initial performance of Requirement R2 must establish an initial Fault current baseline by the effective date of PRC-027-1. Option 2 provides an opportunity for entities to forego the Protection System Coordination Study every six years. However, if a deviation of 15 % or greater from the baseline Fault current is determined, a coordination study is required to be performed prior to the end of that year.

From the retirement of one standard comes two. Are your facilities ready to comply? Does your current training for PRC-001 stand up to PER-006? How does your current process of coordinating and implementing relay setting changes compare to the new requirement? Will you choose to perform a Protection System Coordination every six years or roll the dice and bet on a deviation less than 15%.