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‘Interdependencies’ Joins RISC’s List

Managing vs. Monitoring Risks

By Rich Heidorn Jr.

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec — The Reliability Issues Steering Committee (RISC) has added a 10th risk — critical infrastructure interdependencies — to the nine previously identified, Chair Nelson Peeler said last week.

Nelson Peeler, Duke Energy
Nelson Peeler, Duke Energy | © ERO Insider

Peeler gave the Member Representatives Committee a preview of this year’s ERO Reliability Risk Priorities Report, which he said was informed by an industry survey that generated 157 responses. The new report for the first time will group risks into those that should be managed and those that only need to be monitored.

“That’s a significant change for us,” said Peeler, of Duke Energy. “If we really want to focus our resources on what is most important … there has to be prioritization.” Risks that need the most attention — mitigation, work plans, etc. — will fall into the manage category. NERC will monitor risks that are “relatively under control or [for which] we have actions in place already,” he added.

The report also groups the 10 risks for the first time into four “risk profiles,” which, Peeler said, “gives us a clearer, more concise view of what’s important and lets us focus resources specifically on them.”

“There’s blurring with a lot of these individual risks, but they come together much better in the overall concept,” Peeler explained. “For example, if you look at grid transformation, there’s a lot of individual risks about planning, resource adequacy [and] complexity. A lot of those issues blur over each other. But they come together under the issue of grid transformation.”

RISK Profiles
The Reliability Issues Steering Committee is grouping its concerns into four “risk profiles.” | NERC Reliability Issues Steering Committee

The committee also took “a little shorter-term view than we’ve had in the past,” Peeler said, with a greater emphasis on immediate and short-term actions that can be taken.

The committee is now developing recommended mitigations for the report, which will be submitted to the board in the fourth quarter.

NERC Trustee Janice B. Case
Trustee Janice B. Case | © ERO Insider

Trustee Janice Case said the committee’s work has filled a void for the board. “There’s been a change in [NERC] leadership over the years, and we haven’t missed a beat as you all have progressed this committee. … It has really given the board what we need, which is a good assessment on risk really coming up through the stakeholder organizations that are closest to it,” she said.

Case asked Peeler how he envisioned the RISC working with the proposed Reliability and Security Council (RSC). (See related story, NERC Board Hears Debate over Committee Reorg.)

“There’s still details to work out. … But at a high level, the RISC identifies the risks and prioritizes. And then that needs to go the next step,” Peeler said. “Today it moves to different [committees]. If we move to the [RSC] model … I think this fits very well with the next step in the chain … I think it’s a natural fit.”

Going forward, Peeler said, the RISC wants to make its process “more repeatable” by increasing its use of analytics to provide “objective” measures of risk.

NERC Infrastructure
Risk heat map with risks that require management and those that only need to be monitored | NERC Reliability Issues Steering Committee

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