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Cautionary Tales from the NERC World

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Failing NERC audits or being in noncompliance with NERC standards can result in stiff NERC penalties, a loss in business reputation and a loss in personal credibility of the management team.

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Here are a few public situations where noncompliance occurred.

VAR-002-4.1 R2 Noncompliance due to Entity Not Following Prescribed Voltage Schedule

Summary:

Texas RE determined CLWE (Clearway Renewables, LLC) was noncompliant with VAR-002-4.1 R2. Specifically, CLWE did not maintain the generator voltage schedule provided by the TOP and was not otherwise exempted from doing so by the TOP. Texas RE determined that between May 26, 2018, and November 4, 2019, CLWE impermissibly deviated from applicable voltage set points at two generation Facilities. At the first applicable Facility, the deviations occurred on nine separate occasions for a total of 40 hours. The average duration was approximately 4.5 hours, and the longest individual period was 12 hours. At the second applicable Facility, the deviations occurred for a total of 495 hours. The average duration was five hours, and the longest individual period was 24 hours. The root cause of the noncompliance was a misinterpretation of the applicable RC rule that defined the tolerance band for deviation for the Generator’s voltage schedule. In particular, CLWE misinterpreted the applicable voltage schedule requirements and believed it had a greater voltage deviation range from its voltage set point. This noncompliance started on May 26, 2018, when the first impermissible voltage set point deviation began, and ended on November 4, 2019, when the last impermissible voltage set point deviation ended.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Unclear if financial penalties were assessed.

 

Failure to Identify Ownership and Update PRC-005-6 Equipment Lists Results in Noncompliance

Summary:

During an internal review, MARI (Mariposa Energy, LLC) discovered that it did not test two unmonitored 230kV line differential relays associated with four generating units with a total generating capacity of 320 MW. Specifically, MARI did not verify that the settings were as specified for the affected relays in accordance with Table 1-1 of its Protection System Maintenance Program (PSMP). MARI mistakenly believed that the two-line differential relays were assets owned by its Transmission Owner (TO) because both relay protection devices had the TO’s asset stickers adhered to the face of the equipment. Through further investigation, however, it was discovered that MARI was the owner of the assets and, therefore, was responsible for testing. This issue began on January 1, 2019, when the two unmonitored line differential relays, applicable to MARI’s time-based PSMP, were not verified in accordance with PRC-005-6 R3 and is ongoing with an expected remediation date of April 15, 2022. The cause of the issue was attributed to a less than adequate preventive maintenance for equipment. (Note: Cause is as identified by the entity.)

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Financial penalties assessed.

 

Gila Bend Operations Company (GBOC) Assessed a $126,000 Penalty for Violations of FAC-008-3

Summary:

During a compliance audit conducted September 30, 2019, through October 4, 2019, WECC determined GBOC, as a Generator Owner, had a potential noncompliance with FAC-008-3 R2 and FAC-008-3 R6. GBOC did not include the statement that a Facility Rating shall respect the most limiting applicable Equipment Rating of the individual equipment that comprises that Facility, as required by FAC-008-3 R2.3. The Facility Rating for each Generator Step-Up (GSU) transformer was not listed in the Facility Ratings appendix, and only six out of 12 GSU transformer Facility Ratings were shown on the one-line diagram. The highest Facility Rating for the six GSU transformers was used as the continuous rating in the element in Facility Ratings appendix, thus did not represent the most limiting element for those Facilities. The FRM also did not specify under what conditions each rating was meant to be used nor the time duration of such ratings, which was not consistent with one-line diagrams, as required by FAC-008-3 R2.2.3. The FRM did not identify clearly the Points of Interconnection (POI) with its Transmission Operator (TOP). The one-line diagrams showed that there were three disconnect switches with the TOP however, the FRM does not specify how these ratings for jointly owned Facilities should be determined, as required by FAC-008-3 . In addition, six metering current transformers (CTs) were not addressed in the FRM nor in the Facility Ratings appendix. Specifically, the Facility Ratings were not listed in the FRM for all metering CTs as elements of the 18 kV (low side) or the 525 kV (high side) circuits of the GSUs as required by FAC-008-3 R.2.4 and R.2.4.1. Lastly, jumpers and overhead conductors were not included. GBOC did not correctly determine the correct most limiting element for five Facilities. Also, GBOC had incorrectly converted from amps to MVA in its Facility Ratings appendix for several elements. According to the Settlement Agreement WECC assessed a penalty of one hundred and twenty-six thousand dollars ($126,000) for the referenced violations.

Additional Discussion:

WECC found several issues with GBOC’s Facility Ratings Methodology (FRM). WECC determined that GBOC’s FRM did not:

  • include the statement that a Facility Rating shall respect the most limiting applicable Equipment Rating of the individual equipment that comprises that Facility;
  • specify under what conditions each rating was meant to be used, and was not consistent GBOC’s one-line diagrams;
  • identify clearly the Points of Interconnection with the TOP or specify how ratings for jointly owned Facilities should be determined; and
  • have Facility Ratings listed for six current transformers as elements of the 18 kV (low side) or the 525 kV (high side) circuits.

Background

In June 2017, Salt River Project (SRP) acquired the Gila River Power Station (GRPS) Block 4 from Gila River Power, LLC, registered with NERC as Gila Bend Operating Company (GBOC), and in May, 2018, SRP acquired the GRPS Blocks 1 and 2 from Sundevil Power. Previously, GBOC subcontracted its operational responsibilities to EthosEnergy, and in June, 2018, operational responsibilities transferred to SRP.

Causal Information

The cause of this violation was lack of internal knowledge or expertise to draft and implement the FRM. WECC determined that the violations resolved in this Settlement Agreement collectively posed a serious and substantial risk to the reliability of the Bulk Power System (BPS).

Penalty Determination

WECC considered the following factors:

  • The violations of WECC2019022528 and WECC2019022529 collectively posed a serious and substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS;
  • GBOC accepted responsibility and admitted to the violation;
  • GBOC was cooperative throughout the compliance enforcement process; and
  • there were no other mitigating or aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances that would affect the assessed penalty/disposition method.

After consideration of the above factors, WECC determined that, in this instance, the penalty amount of one hundred and twenty-six thousand dollars ($126,000) is appropriate and bears a reasonable relation to the seriousness and duration of the violations.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Financial penalties assessed of $126,000. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation improved compliance processes and people.

Re: NERC Full Notice of Penalty regarding Broad River Energy, LLC, FERC Docket No. NP22_-000

February 28, 2022
VIA ELECTRONIC FILING
Ms. Kimberly D. Bose
Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426
Re: NERC Full Notice of Penalty regarding Broad River Energy, LLC,
FERC Docket No. NP22_-000

Dear Ms. Bose:

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) hereby provides this Notice of Penalty¹ regarding Broad River Energy, LLC (Broad River), and referred to herein as the Entity, NERC Registry ID# NCRR11313,² in accordance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (Commission or FERC) rules, regulations, and orders, as well as NERC’s Rules of Procedure including Appendix 4C (NERC Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program (CMEP)).³ NERC is filing this Notice of Penalty, with information and details regarding the nature and resolution of the violations,⁴ with the Commission because SERC Reliability Corporation (SERC) and Broad River have entered into a Settlement Agreement to resolve all outstanding issues arising from SERC’s determination and findings of the violations of the Reliability Standards listed below. According to the Settlement Agreement, Broad River neither admits nor denies the violation, but has agreed to the assessed penalty of four hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars ($435,000), in addition to other remedies and actions to mitigate the instant violation and facilitate future compliance under the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement.

¹ Rules Concerning Certification of the Electric Reliability Organization; and Procedures for the Establishment, Approval, and Enforcement of Electric Reliability Standards, Order No. 672, 114 FERC ¶ 61,104, order on reh’g, Order No. 672-A, 114 FERC ¶ 61,328 (2006); Notice of New Docket Prefix “NP” for Notices of Penalty Filed by the N. Am. Elec. Reliability Corp., Docket No. RM05-30-000 (February 7, 2008); Mandatory Reliability Standards for the Bulk-Power System, Order No. 693, 118 FERC ¶ 61,218, order on reh’g, Order No. 693-A, 120 FERC ¶ 61,053 (2007).
² Broad River was included on the NERC Compliance Registry as a Generation Owner (GO) and Generation Operator (GOP) on December 27, 2012.
³ See 18 C.F.R § 39.7(c)(2) and 18 C.F.R § 39.7(d).
⁴ For purposes of this document, each violation at issue is described as a “violation,” regardless of its procedural posture and whether it was a possible, alleged, or confirmed violation.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Financial penalties assessed of $435,000. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation of improved compliance processes; adding or retraining people and/or finding a new provider for compliance management.

Violation of PRC-005-6 R3 Resulting from Failure to Perform Battery Maintenance

Summary:

NPCC determined that Bear Swamp Power Company, LLC (“the Entity”), as a Generator Owner (GO), was noncompliant with PRC-005-6 R3 (Filing Date: 4/28/2022). For both of its applicable Vented Lead-Acid (VLA) battery banks, the Entity failed to perform the 18-calendar month maintenance activities (Table 1-4(a)). The noncompliance started on April 1, 2017, when the entity failed to meet the 100-percent compliant percentage for an 18-month maintenance interval set by the PRC-005-6 implementation plan. The noncompliance ended on January 13, 2021, when the Entity completed all previously missed 18-month tests for both its VLA battery banks.

Additional Discussion:

Root Cause

The root cause of this noncompliance was lack of awareness of compliance obligations regarding the 18-month missed maintenance activities.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation improved compliance processes and people. In this case, the entity did not have any prior violation history and their corrective actions were extremely good; as a result, no monetary penalty was assessed.

 

Facility Ratings (FAC-008) Violation Due to Failure to Consider Battery Storage System

Summary:

2W Permian Solar, LLC (PERM) notified Texas RE that it was noncompliant with FAC-008-3 R6. Specifically, PERM’s Facility Ratings were not consistent with its documented Facility Rating methodology because PERM’s battery energy storage system was not considered as part of the total generator output. PERM discovered this issue on September 2, 2021, as a result of a review of its internal compliance documentation. On September 22, 2021, PERM documented revised Facility Ratings, which did not result in a change in the identified most limiting series element and did not change the overall Facility Rating.

Additional Discussion:

Root Cause

The root cause of this issue was an insufficient process for calculating Facility Ratings. Specifically, PERM’s Facility Ratings methodology and documented process did not clearly communicate to PERM’s engineering vendor that the battery energy storage system should be considered to be a generator for the purpose of the methodology, and the Facility Ratings created by the vendor were not sufficiently verified by PERM personnel until September 2021.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation of improved compliance processes; adding or retraining people and/or finding a new provider for compliance management. In this case the entity did not have any prior violation history and their corrective actions were extremely good; as a result, no monetary penalty was assessed.

 

Inadequate Protection System Maintenance Program (PSMP), PRC-005

Summary:

Steamboat Hills, LLC (STBH) did not maintain an approved Protection System Maintenance Program (PSMP) for its 54.7 MVA generating facility. STBH had retained a third-party contractor to provide operations support. The third-party contractor conducted a review of NERC compliance, including a review of STBH’s PSMP. While STBH maintained versions of PSMPs, the documents had no clear origin, and were not present or approved in the time PRC-005-1.1b R1 was mandatory and enforceable. STBH has since retained the services of a new third-party contractor who conducted a gap analysis and discovered this instance of noncompliance. STBH notified WECC that it was in potential noncompliance with PRC-005-6 R1.

Additional Discussion:

Root Cause

WECC attributed the root cause to STBH not having an effective NERC compliance program at the time PRC-005-1.1b became mandatory and enforceable. As a result, there was a lack of clearly defined procedures to review and approve of the work of third-party contractors. This issue started on June 6, 2020, when STBH needed to have a verified PSMP and ended on September 27, 2021, when STBH verified and implemented its PSMP.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation of improved compliance processes; adding or retraining people and/or finding a new provider for compliance management. In this case the entity did not have any prior violation history and their corrective actions were extremely good; as a result, no monetary penalty was assessed.

 

BAL-001-TRE-2 R8 Violation for Failure to Notify Balancing Authority (BA) of Status Change

Summary:

RWE Renewables QSE, LLC (RWE QSE) notified Texas RE that it was noncompliant with BAL-001-TRE-2 R8. Specifically, RWE QSE failed to notify its Balancing Authority (BA) of a change in its Governor status at its Panther Creek Wind Farm II, LLC (PC2) Facility within 30 minutes of the change.

Additional Discussion:

At 15:06:00 (CST) on April 12, 2019, the status of PC2’s Governor changed from “ON” to “OFF” due to a server reboot. PC2’s Remote Operating Center (ROC) dispatchers were given an alarm and the BA was notified at 15:31:00 (CST) of the Governor status change, in accordance with the Standard. At 9:52:33 (CST) on April 13, 2019, PC2’s Governor status changed from “OFF” to “ON,” and the alarm, indicating that the Governor was “OFF,” automatically cleared. However, ROC dispatchers did not provide timely notification to the BA. Later that same day, at 11:30:00 (CST), an ROC dispatcher reviewed details of the prior alarm and notified the BA that the Governor had returned to “ON.” This notification was made 1 hour and 38 minutes after the Governor returned to “ON,” and affected only the Texas RE Region.

Root Cause

The root cause of this noncompliance inadequate internal controls to ensure adherence to RWE QSE’s process. Specifically, the alarm indicating a change in Governor status only functioned as an indicator for dispatchers to act when the status changed from “ON” to “OFF.” This resulted in a failure by dispatchers to perform the required notifications when the Governor status changed from “OFF” to “ON.”

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation of improved compliance processes; adding or retraining people and/or finding a new provider for compliance management. In this case the entity did not have any prior violation history and their corrective actions were extremely good; as a result, no monetary penalty was assessed.

 

Violation of TOP-001-3 R1 for Failure to Communicate Information to Reliability Coordinator

Summary:

During a compliance audit, Texas RE initially determined American Electric Power Service Corp as agent for AEP Texas, Inc., and Public Service Company of Oklahoma (AEPSC) was noncompliant with TOP-001-3 R1. However, based on the description of the issues provided, Texas RE subsequently determined that AEPSC was noncompliant with TOP-001-3 R8. In particular, on March 20, 2018, at 12:20 p.m., AEPSC identified a consistent, non-converged solution in its Real-Time Contingency Analysis (RTCA). AEPSC did not communicate this information to its Reliability Coordinator (RC) in violation of TOP-001-3 R8, which requires that each Transmission Operator (TOP) shall inform its RC of its actual or expected operations that result in, or could result in, an emergency.

Prior to March 20, 2018, several transmission lines were out of service for approved construction and maintenance activities in the Del Rio, San Angelo, and Mesa Verde area. An additional forced outage on another transmission line resulted in only two 138 kV lines serving the area on March 20, 2018. Beginning at 10:58, the RC’s required RTCA indicated several thermal limit exceedances. As the available wind generation in the area declined, the RC was unable to automatically resolve the identified post-contingency thermal exceedances through a generation solution. Over the next few hours, AEPSC, the RC, and a neighboring TOP continuously coordinated to bring transmission facilities back into service to address the issue. Specifically, these ongoing communications occurred at 11:35, 11:46, 11:49, 12:11, 12:26, 14:08, and 14:24. In addition to these actions, AEPSC and its RC communicated regarding the development of a post-contingency load shed Transmission Outage Action Plan (TOAP) during the 11:46 call. While these communications were ongoing, at 10:29 and 14:29, AEPSC also placed a number of capacitor banks into service to bring up voltages in the area. Under the Coordinated Function Registration (CFR) agreement between AEPSC and its RC, the RC is the sole entity responsible for performing Real-time Assessments.

Although the RC’s State Estimator and RTCA applications showed potential issues in the area, they did not specifically indicate post-contingency voltage collapse. While not required to perform periodic RTCAs, AEPSC’s process is to perform an RTCA for its TOP Area as an additional check on its system. As AEPSC worked with its RC and neighboring TOP to address transmission issues, AEPSC’s optional RTCA began to indicate a consistent, non-converged solution at 12:20. During its various, ongoing communications regarding the issue, however, AEPSC did not specifically communicate complete information regarding the actual operational status of its system to its RC derived from its local RTCA information. At 14:33, a fault occurred due to ionized smoke from a nearby grass fire that resulted in a local voltage collapse and the loss of approximately 140 MW of load. This noncompliance started on March 20, 2018, at 12:20, when AEPSC first identified and then failed to communicate its optional RTCA’s non-converged RTCA solution to its RC, and ended on March 20, 2018, at 14:33, when a fault occurred resulting in a local voltage collapse.

Additional Discussion:

Root Cause

The root cause of this noncompliance was inadequate processes and training regarding the need to communicate non-converged RTCA solutions to AEPSC’s RC. Specifically, although AEPSC had established communication protocols for communicating actual operational information regarding its system, such as RTCA results, it lacked specific, detailed steps for operators to track and communicate unsolved RTCA contingencies to its RC.

Penalty Determination

Texas RE reviewed AEPSC’s internal compliance program (ICP) and considered it to be a neutral factor in the penalty determination. Texas RE considered AEPSC’s compliance history and determined there were no relevant instances of noncompliance.
In addition to the moderate risk of the violation, Texas RE determined that although this violation did not cause a loss of load, the issue occurred during a load loss event and, therefore, it was inappropriate to process this violation through a streamlined disposition method. Texas RE further concluded, however, that a zero-dollar penalty is appropriate because AEPSC’s failure to communicate the results of its optional RTCA did not cause the loss of load event. In addition, AEPSC is not obligated to run an RTCA, and AEPSC’s decision to run an RTCA as an additional check enhances reliability. Because this violation stems from AEPSC’s failure to communicate complete information regarding its actual operations derived from its optional RTCA, AEPSC would not have a violation if it had elected not to run its optional RTCA altogether. Texas RE also considered the fact that AEPSC elected to address this violation by further enhancing its internal RTCA procedures, including communication processes with its RC, in lieu of terminating such activities in response to this issue.

Implications:

Reputational damage to plant, owners, and plant management. Additional costs include responding to the findings and correcting the violations as well as determining and implementation of improved compliance processes; adding or retraining people and/or finding a new provider for compliance management. No monetary penalty was assessed.

NERC Full Notice of Penalty regarding Southwest Power Pool, Inc.,

FERC Letter:

March 31, 2022
VIA ELECTRONIC FILING
Ms. Kimberly D. Bose
Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426
Re: NERC Full Notice of Penalty regarding Southwest Power Pool, Inc.,
FERC Docket No. NP22‐_‐000

Dear Ms. Bose:

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) hereby provides this Notice of Penalty¹ regarding Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP), and referred to herein as the Entity, NERC Registry ID# NCR01143,² in accordance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (Commission or FERC) rules, regulations, and orders, as well as NERC’s Rules of Procedure including Appendix 4C (NERC Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program (CMEP)).³

NERC is filing this Notice of Penalty, with information and details regarding the nature and resolution of the violations,⁴ with the Commission because NERC as Compliance Enforcement Authority (NCEA) and the Entity have entered into a Settlement Agreement (Attachment A) to resolve all outstanding issues arising from NCEA’s determination and findings of the violation of the Reliability Standard listed below.

According to the Settlement Agreement, the Entity admits the violation, and has agreed to the assessed penalty of two hundred eighty thousand dollars ($280,000), in addition to other remedies and actions to mitigate the instant violation and facilitate future compliance under the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement.

¹ Rules Concerning Certification of the Electric Reliability Organization; and Procedures for the Establishment, Approval, and Enforcement of Electric Reliability Standards, Order No. 672, 114 FERC ¶ 61,104, order on reh’g, Order No. 672‐A, 114 FERC ¶ 61,328 (2006); Notice of New Docket Prefix “NP” for Notices of Penalty Filed by the N. Am. Elec. Reliability Corp., Docket No. RM05‐30‐000 (February 7, 2008); Mandatory Reliability Standards for the Bulk‐Power System, Order No. 693, 118 FERC ¶ 61,218, order on reh’g, Order No. 693‐A, 120 FERC ¶ 61,053 (2007).
² The Entity was included on the NERC Compliance Registry as a Balancing Authority (BA) on March 1, 2014, Planning Authority/Planning Coordinator (PA/PC), Reliability Coordinator (RC), Reserve Sharing Group (RSG), and Transmission Service Provider (TSP), each on May 31, 2017.
³ See 18 C.F.R § 39.7(c)(2) and 18 C.F.R § 39.7(d).
⁴ For purposes of this document, each violation at issue is described as a “violation,” regardless of its procedural posture and whether it was a possible, alleged, or confirmed violation.

Statement of Findings Underlying the Violation

This Notice of Penalty incorporates the findings and justifications set forth in the Settlement Agreement, by and between NCEA and the Entity. The details of the findings and basis for the penalty are set forth in the Settlement Agreement and herein.

In accordance with Section 39.7 of the Commission’s regulations, 18 C.F.R. § 39.7 (2021), NERC provides the following summary table identifying each violation of a Reliability Standard resolved by the Settlement Agreement. Further information on the subject violation is set forth in the Settlement Agreement and herein.

Violation(s) Determined and Discovery Method

*SR = Self‐Report / SC = Self‐Certification / CA = Compliance Audit / SPC = Spot Check / CI = Compliance Investigation

Information about the Entity

SPP is a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) that is mandated by the Commission with ensuring reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure, and competitive wholesale prices of electricity. Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, SPP has members in 14 states and a service territory spanning approximately 552,882 square miles and serving 18 million people. The SPP service territory includes more than 70,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines, approximately 6,140 substations, and more than 1,162 generation plants. The SPP service territory has reached a coincident peak load of approximately 51 GW and has approximately 94 GW of generating nameplate capacity.

NCEA determined that the Entity did not have sufficient alarm management in its Real‐time Contingency Assessment (RTCA) system, resulting in disabled alarm flags for certain 345 kV and 500 kV Facilities. In total, the disabled alarm flags affected 1% of the total lines monitored by SPP (3% of the electrical capacity) and 8% of the total number of transformers (12% of transformer capacity). Attachment A includes additional facts regarding the violation.

The cause of this violation was a database software issue and insufficient controls in process steps before the Entity put the model into the production EMS environment.

NCEA determined that this violation posed a serious and substantial risk to the reliability of the bulk power system (BPS). Attachment A includes the facts regarding the violation that NCEA considered in its risk assessment.

The Entity submitted its mitigation activities to address the referenced violation. Attachment A includes a description of the mitigation activities the Entity took to address this violation.

The Entity certified that it had completed all mitigation activities. NCEA verified that the Entity had completed all mitigation activities. The attached Settlement Agreement (Attachment A) and Attachment 3 to the Settlement Agreement provide specific information on NCEA’s verification of the Entity’s completion of the activities.

NCEA’s Basis for Penalty

According to the Settlement Agreement, NCEA has assessed a penalty of two hundred eighty thousand dollars ($280,000) for the referenced violation. In reaching this determination, NCEA considered the following factors:

  1. The violation posed a serious or substantial risk to the reliability of the BPS, as discussed in

Attachment A;

  1. The Entity self‐reported the violation;
  2. The Entity admitted to and agreed to settle the violation;
  3. The Entity was cooperative throughout the compliance enforcement process;
  4. The instant violation constituted the Entity’s first occurrence of violation of the subject NERC

Reliability Standard;

  1. The Entity had an internal compliance program at the time of the violation, which NCEA did not consider a mitigating factor, as discussed in Attachment A; and
  2. There were no other mitigating or aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances that would affect the assessed penalty/disposition method.

After consideration of the above factors, NCEA determined that, in this instance, the penalty amount of two hundred eighty thousand dollars ($280,000) is appropriate and bears a reasonable relationship to the seriousness of the violation.

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