Washington — Avangrid has agreed to pay $450,000 in penalties after admitting to six violations of transmission operations reliability standards at three of its subsidiaries. The violations posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the bulk power system, according to a recent notice filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
That notice of penalty (NP20-4) filed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. revealed that Avangrid subsidiaries Central Maine Power, New York State Electric and Gas, and Rochester Gas and Electric failed to immediately report to their respective reliability coordinator unplanned outages of certain monitoring and assessment capabilities, limiting situational awareness and leaving the grid vulnerable to instability, uncontrolled separation or cascading outages.
CMP, NYSEG and RG&E also violated a requirement to conduct a real-time assessment of their transmission facilities at least every 30 minutes, failing to request that their respective regional grid operator perform the assessment on their behalf while their capabilities were down, the notice said. This increased the risk that the utilities and their grid operators would have been ill-prepared to proactively handle changing system conditions that could have threatened grid reliability.
The utilities self-reported the incidents, which occurred on November 27, 2017, at NYSEG and RG&E and on January 11, 2019, at CMP.
The Northeast Power Coordinating Council, which is responsible for reliability compliance monitoring and enforcement in Northeastern North America, found that no actual harm is known to have occurred as a result of the violations, as system conditions were normal and there were no emergencies during the incidents.
The violations at NYSEG and RG&E stemmed from a "lack of detective controls to identify a failure of the monitoring and assessment capabilities to operate, and a lack of effective management oversight including training," the notice said. The root cause of the problem at CMP was deemed to be "lack of effective management oversight, including insufficient training."
The utilities reached a settlement with NPCC in July to resolve the reliability standard violations in which Avangrid agreed to pay a $450,000 penalty to NPCC, remedy the violations through a list of mitigation activities and take steps to ensure future compliance with the mandatory standards. NERC shared the settlement with FERC in the penalty notice.
The NERC Board of Trustees Compliance Committee approved the settlement in September, but the penalty will not take effect until 30 days after the notice was filed with FERC, or upon a final determination by FERC on appropriate sanctions and enforcement action if the commission decides to review the penalty.
Details of the incidents at issue were laid out in the settlement and attached addendum.
NOVEMBER 2017 INCIDENT
At NYSEG and RG&E, the primary and backup servers providing database services to a transmission network analysis (TNA) tool failed at 7:03 pm on the day in question. With the servers down, no alarms were sounded to notify the system operator of the loss of the TNA, as alert messages were solely being generated within the server log file.
The utilities did not become aware of the loss until about six hours later when RG&E was unable to perform a power system study using the TNA, and notified NYSEG which then also discovered its lack of ability to use the TNA.
The utilities rectified the problem, restoring the primary failed server within about four hours. But neither utility notified the reliability coordinator, in this case New York Independent System Operator, until 2:57 pm November 28, 2017. As such, 14 hours and 27 minutes elapsed between the time the utilities knew of the loss and notified NYISO.
Further, real-time assessments at NYSEG and RG&E were not performed for a total of 9 hours and 20 minutes.
JANUARY 2019 INCIDENT
The incident at CMP involved a data entry error that interrupted connectivity and led to a failure of the utility's energy management system monitoring and assessment capabilities.
The utility immediately noticed the failure and went to work to fix it, but did not notify ISO New England, its reliability coordinator, as required by the reliability standard.
By the time ISO-NE was notified, the monitoring and assessment capabilities had been restored after being down for one hour and 17 minutes, during which time no real-time assessments were performed.
NPCC verified on June 11 that Avangrid had completed all mitigation activities associated with both incidents.
-- Jasmin Melvin, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Edited by Rocco Canonica, email@example.com
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