CORES, Align and the Expansion of the ERO Portal

By Jack Jackson, Sr NERC Reliability Specialist

Over the past several years, NERC has been working with the regions to centralize several processes through the NERC ERO Portal. Most familiar to Generator Operators would be MIDAS, used for the submittal of relay operations and misoperations and, to a lesser degree, any facility carrying a Coordinated Functional Registration. Most recently NERC and Regional Entities have provided notifications of the newest modules; the Centralized Organizational Registration ERO System and Align.

The CORES application will be the next of these centralized systems to come on line. While organizational information is already held by NERC and the Regional Entities the organizations themselves are being tasked with the migration of this data into the new system. Although this may initially seem like a burden, the intent is to allow the facilities to input the information as they will be able to do so more accurately than the Regional Entities.  Organizations will be notified by the Regional Entity when the system is available for your input.

There are three major data types in the CORES system; Facility information, Neighboring Entities, and Affiliations. This information should be familiar from pre-audit and/or Regional Risk Assessment forms. Not all the fields are required in each segment as is the case in most systems. And CORES won’t allow you to progress until you have provided the minimal information required.

Facility information includes information such as address, interconnection voltage and compliance contacts. Neighboring Entities would be those entities such as your Balancing Authority, Transmission Operator and Planning coordinator. The Affiliation data is largely optional at this point and is generally looking to identify any sister and parent relationships entities may have. The NERC Rules of Procedure do not currently address these relationships and it would be advisable to check with senior management or legal for guidance completing this section.

The Align Project is perhaps the most ambitious centralized system and, as such, it will be rolled out in several phases. This system is intended to wholly replace the various regional data portals and management systems. The first phase is expected to roll out in September and will include methods for Self-Reporting, Self-Logging, mitigation and enforcement. The next phase is scheduled for the first half of 2020 and includes Self Certifications, Data Submittals, and Technical Feasibility Exceptions. The third phase is scheduled to roll out in the latter half of 2020 and will address Audits, Spot Checks, Investigations, Complaints and Planning.

The result of these efforts is a consistent approach to data management and controls. Rather than each region having its own forms or pages on compliance data management portals, everyone will now be using the same forms and formats. Beyond this, the functions, locations of buttons and organization of the pages is uniform between the different applications on the ERO Portal. This should greatly benefit the user by not having to learn a new system for each application. Any questions regarding access to these applications or for training on their use should be directed to the Regional Entity.