[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 190 (Friday, September 30, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 67120-67140]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-23441]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

18 CFR Part 40

[Docket No. RM15-11-000; Order No. 830]


Reliability Standard for Transmission System Planned Performance 
for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events

AGENCY: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) approves 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 (Transmission System Planned Performance 
for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events). The North American Electric 
Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commission-certified Electric 
Reliability Organization, submitted Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 for 
Commission approval in response to a Commission directive in Order No. 
779. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 establishes requirements for 
certain registered entities to assess the vulnerability of their 
transmission systems to geomagnetic disturbance events (GMDs), which 
occur when the sun ejects charged particles that interact with and 
cause changes in the earth's magnetic fields. Applicable entities that 
do not meet certain performance requirements, based on the results of 
their vulnerability assessments, must develop a plan to achieve the 
performance requirements. In addition, the Commission directs NERC to 
develop modifications to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1: To modify the 
benchmark GMD event definition set forth in Attachment 1 of Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1, as it pertains to the required GMD Vulnerability 
Assessments and transformer thermal impact assessments, so that the 
definition is not based solely on spatially-averaged data; to require 
the collection of necessary geomagnetically induced current monitoring 
and magnetometer data and to make such data publicly available; and to 
include a one-year deadline for the development of corrective action 
plans and two and four-year deadlines to complete mitigation actions 
involving non-hardware and hardware mitigation, respectively. The 
Commission also directs NERC to submit a work plan and, subsequently, 
one or more informational filings that address specific GMD-related 
research areas.

DATES: This rule will become effective November 29, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    Regis Binder (Technical Information), Office of Electric 
Reliability, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street 
NE., Washington, DC 20426, Telephone: (301) 665-1601, 
[email protected].
    Matthew Vlissides (Legal Information), Office of the General 
Counsel, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., 
Washington, DC 20426, Telephone: (202) 502-8408, 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Order No. 830

Final Rule

    1. Pursuant to section 215 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), the 
Commission approves Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 (Transmission System 
Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events).\1\ The North 
American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commission-
certified Electric Reliability Organization (ERO), submitted 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 for Commission approval in response to a 
Commission directive in Order No. 779.\2\ Reliability Standard TPL-007-
1 establishes requirements for certain registered entities to assess 
the vulnerability of their transmission systems to geomagnetic 
disturbance events (GMDs), which occur when the sun ejects charged 
particles that interact with and cause changes in the earth's magnetic 
fields. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 requires applicable entities 
that do not meet certain performance requirements, based on the results 
of their vulnerability assessments, to develop a plan to achieve the 
requirements. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 addresses the directives 
in Order No. 779 by requiring applicable Bulk-Power System owners and 
operators to conduct initial and on-going vulnerability assessments 
regarding the potential impact of a benchmark GMD event on the Bulk-
Power System as a whole and on Bulk-Power System components.\3\ In 
addition, Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 requires applicable entities 
to develop and implement corrective action plans to mitigate identified 
vulnerabilities.\4\ Potential mitigation strategies identified in the 
proposed Reliability Standard include, but are not limited to, the 
installation, modification or removal of transmission and generation 
facilities and associated equipment.\5\ Accordingly, Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 constitutes an important step in addressing the 
risks posed by GMD events to the Bulk-Power System.
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    \1\ 16 U.S.C. 824o.
    \2\ Reliability Standards for Geomagnetic Disturbances, Order 
No. 779, 78 FR 30,747 (May 23, 2013), 143 FERC ] 61,147, reh'g 
denied, 144 FERC ] 61,113 (2013).
    \3\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R4; see also 
Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at PP 67, 71.
    \4\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R7; see also 
Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at P 79.
    \5\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R7.
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    2. In addition, pursuant to section 215(d)(5) of the FPA, the 
Commission directs NERC to develop modifications to Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1: (1) To revise the benchmark GMD event definition 
set forth in Attachment 1 of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, as it 
pertains to the required GMD Vulnerability Assessments and transformer 
thermal impact assessments, so that the definition is not based solely 
on spatially-averaged data; (2) to require the collection of necessary 
geomagnetically induced current (GIC) monitoring and magnetometer data 
and to make such data publicly available; and (3) to include a one-year 
deadline for the completion of corrective action plans and two- and 
four-year deadlines to complete mitigation actions involving non-
hardware and hardware mitigation, respectively.\6\ The Commission 
directs NERC to submit these revisions within 18 months of the 
effective date of this Final Rule. The Commission also directs NERC to 
submit a work plan (GMD research work plan) within six months of the 
effective date of this Final Rule and, subsequently, one or more

[[Page 67121]]

informational filings that address specific GMD-related research areas.
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    \6\ 16 U.S.C. 824o(d)(5).
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I. Background

A. Section 215 and Mandatory Reliability Standards

    3. Section 215 of the FPA requires the Commission to certify an ERO 
to develop mandatory and enforceable Reliability Standards, subject to 
Commission review and approval. Once approved, the Reliability 
Standards may be enforced in the United States by the ERO, subject to 
Commission oversight, or by the Commission independently.\7\
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    \7\ Id. 824o(e).
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B. GMD Primer

    4. GMD events occur when the sun ejects charged particles that 
interact with and cause changes in the earth's magnetic fields.\8\ Once 
a solar particle is ejected, it can take between 17 to 96 hours 
(depending on its energy level) to reach earth.\9\ A geoelectric field 
is the electric potential (measured in volts per kilometer (V/km)) on 
the earth's surface and is directly related to the rate of change of 
the magnetic fields.\10\ A geoelectric field has an amplitude and 
direction and acts as a voltage source that can cause GICs to flow on 
long conductors, such as transmission lines.\11\ The magnitude of the 
geoelectric field amplitude is impacted by local factors such as 
geomagnetic latitude and local earth conductivity.\12\ Geomagnetic 
latitude is the proximity to earth's magnetic north and south poles, as 
opposed to earth's geographic poles. Local earth conductivity is the 
ability of the earth's crust to conduct electricity at a certain 
location to depths of hundreds of kilometers down to the earth's 
mantle. Local earth conductivity impacts the magnitude (i.e., severity) 
of the geoelectric fields that are formed during a GMD event by, all 
else being equal, a lower earth conductivity resulting in higher 
geoelectric fields.\13\
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    \8\ North American Electric Reliability Corp., 2012 Special 
Reliability Assessment Interim Report: Effects of Geomagnetic 
Disturbances on the Bulk Power System at i-ii (February 2012), 
http://www.nerc.com/files/2012GMD.pdf (GMD Interim Report).
    \9\ Id. ii.
    \10\ Id.
    \11\ Id.
    \12\ NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event 
Description) at 4.
    \13\ Id.
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C. Order No. 779

    5. In Order No. 779, the Commission directed NERC, pursuant to 
section 215(d)(5) of the FPA, to develop and submit for approval 
proposed Reliability Standards that address the impact of geomagnetic 
disturbances on the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System. The 
Commission based its directive on the potentially severe, wide-spread 
impact on the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System that can be 
caused by GMD events and the absence of existing Reliability Standards 
to address GMD events.\14\
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    \14\ Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at P 3.
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    6. Order No. 779 directed NERC to implement the directive in two 
stages. In the first stage, the Commission directed NERC to submit, 
within six months of the effective date of Order No. 779, one or more 
Reliability Standards (First Stage GMD Reliability Standards) that 
require owners and operators of the Bulk-Power System to develop and 
implement operational procedures to mitigate the effects of GMDs 
consistent with the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System.\15\
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    \15\ Id. P 2.
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    7. In the second stage, the Commission directed NERC to submit, 
within 18 months of the effective date of Order No. 779, one or more 
Reliability Standards (Second Stage GMD Reliability Standards) that 
require owners and operators of the Bulk-Power System to conduct 
initial and on-going assessments of the potential impact of benchmark 
GMD events on Bulk-Power System equipment and the Bulk-Power System as 
a whole. The Commission directed that the Second Stage GMD Reliability 
Standards must identify benchmark GMD events that specify what severity 
of GMD events a responsible entity must assess for potential impacts on 
the Bulk-Power System.\16\ Order No. 779 explained that if the 
assessments identified potential impacts from benchmark GMD events, the 
Reliability Standards should require owners and operators to develop 
and implement a plan to protect against instability, uncontrolled 
separation, or cascading failures of the Bulk-Power System, caused by 
damage to critical or vulnerable Bulk-Power System equipment, or 
otherwise, as a result of a benchmark GMD event. The Commission 
directed that the development of this plan could not be limited to 
considering operational procedures or enhanced training alone but 
should, subject to the potential impacts of the benchmark GMD events 
identified in the assessments, contain strategies for protecting 
against the potential impact of GMDs based on factors such as the age, 
condition, technical specifications, system configuration or location 
of specific equipment.\17\ Order No. 779 observed that these strategies 
could, for example, include automatically blocking GICs from entering 
the Bulk-Power System, instituting specification requirements for new 
equipment, inventory management, isolating certain equipment that is 
not cost effective to retrofit or a combination thereof.
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    \16\ Id.
    \17\ Id.
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D. Order No. 797

    8. In Order No. 797, the Commission approved Reliability Standard 
EOP-010-1 (Geomagnetic Disturbance Operations).\18\ NERC submitted 
Reliability Standard EOP-010-1 for Commission approval in compliance 
with the Commission's directive in Order No. 779 corresponding to the 
First Stage GMD Reliability Standards. In Order No. 797-A, the 
Commission denied the Foundation for Resilient Societies' (Resilient 
Societies) request for rehearing of Order No. 797. The Commission 
stated that the rehearing request ``addressed a later stage of efforts 
on geomagnetic disturbances (i.e., NERC's future filing of Second Stage 
GMD Reliability Standards) and [that Resilient Societies] may seek to 
present those arguments at an appropriate time in response to that 
filing.'' \19\ In particular, the Commission stated that GIC monitoring 
requirements should be addressed in the Second Stage GMD Reliability 
Standards.\20\
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    \18\ Reliability Standard for Geomagnetic Disturbance 
Operations, Order No. 797, 79 FR 35,911 (June 25, 2014), 147 FERC ] 
61,209, reh'g denied, Order No. 797-A, 149 FERC ] 61,027 (2014).
    \19\ Order No. 797-A, 149 FERC ] 61,027 at P 2.
    \20\ Id. P 27 (stating that the Commission continues ``to 
encourage NERC to address the collection, dissemination, and use of 
geomagnetic induced current data, by NERC, industry or others, in 
the Second Stage GMD Reliability Standards because such efforts 
could be useful in the development of GMD mitigation methods or to 
validate GMD models'').
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E. NERC Petition and Reliability Standard TPL-007-1

    9. On January 21, 2015, NERC petitioned the Commission to approve 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 and its associated violation risk 
factors and violation severity levels, implementation plan, and 
effective dates.\21\ NERC also submitted a proposed definition for the 
term ``Geomagnetic Disturbance Vulnerability Assessment or GMD 
Vulnerability

[[Page 67122]]

Assessment'' for inclusion in the NERC Glossary of Terms (NERC 
Glossary). NERC maintains that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is just, 
reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or preferential and in the public 
interest. NERC further contends that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
satisfies the directive in Order No. 779 corresponding to the Second 
Stage GMD Reliability Standards.
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    \21\ Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is not attached to this 
final rule. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is available on the 
Commission's eLibrary document retrieval system in Docket No. RM15-
11-000 and on the NERC website, www.nerc.com. NERC submitted an 
errata on February 2, 2015 containing a corrected version of Exhibit 
A (Proposed Reliability Standard TPL-007-1).
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    10. NERC states that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 applies to 
planning coordinators, transmission planners, transmission owners and 
generation owners who own or whose planning coordinator area or 
transmission planning area includes a power transformer with a high 
side, wye-grounded winding connected at 200 kV or higher.\22\ NERC 
explains that the applicability criteria for qualifying transformers in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 are the same as that for the First Stage 
GMD Reliability Standard in Reliability Standard EOP-010-1, which the 
Commission approved in Order No. 797.
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    \22\ A power transformer with a ``high side wye-grounded 
winding'' refers to a power transformer with windings on the high 
voltage side that are connected in a wye configuration and have a 
grounded neutral connection. NERC Petition at 13 n.32.
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    11. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 contains seven requirements. 
Requirement R1 requires planning coordinators and transmission planners 
to determine the individual and joint responsibilities in the planning 
coordinator's planning area for maintaining models and performing 
studies needed to complete the GMD Vulnerability Assessment required in 
Requirement R4.
    12. Requirement R2 requires planning coordinators and transmission 
planners to maintain system models and GIC system models needed to 
complete the GMD Vulnerability Assessment required in Requirement R4.
    13. Requirement R3 requires planning coordinators and transmission 
planners to have criteria for acceptable system steady state voltage 
limits for their systems during the benchmark GMD event described in 
Attachment 1 (Calculating Geoelectric Fields for the Benchmark GMD 
Event).
    14. Requirement R4 requires planning coordinators and transmission 
planners to conduct a GMD Vulnerability Assessment every 60 months 
using the benchmark GMD event described in Attachment 1 to Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1. The benchmark GMD event is based on a 1-in-100 year 
frequency of occurrence and is composed of four elements: (1) A 
reference peak geoelectric field amplitude of 8 V/km derived from 
statistical analysis of historical magnetometer data; (2) a scaling 
factor to account for local geomagnetic latitude; (3) a scaling factor 
to account for local earth conductivity; and (4) a reference 
geomagnetic field time series or wave shape to facilitate time-domain 
analysis of GMD impact on equipment.\23\ The product of the first three 
elements is referred to as the regional geoelectric field peak 
amplitude.\24\
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    \23\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Att. 1; see also NERC 
Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event Description) at 
5.
    \24\ NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event 
Description) at 5.
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    15. Requirement R5 requires planning coordinators and transmission 
planners to provide GIC flow information, to be used in the transformer 
thermal impact assessment required in Requirement R6, to each 
transmission owner and generator owner that owns an applicable 
transformer within the applicable planning area.
    16. Requirement R6 requires transmission owners and generator 
owners to conduct thermal impact assessments on solely and jointly 
owned applicable transformers where the maximum effective GIC value 
provided in Requirement R5 is 75 amperes per phase (A/phase) or 
greater.
    17. Requirement R7 requires planning coordinators and transmission 
planners to develop corrective action plans if the GMD Vulnerability 
Assessment concludes that the system does not meet the performance 
requirements in Table 1 (Steady State Planning Events).

F. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    18. On May 14, 2015, the Commission issued a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to approve Reliability Standard TPL-007-
1.\25\ In addition, the Commission proposed to direct that NERC develop 
three modifications to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. First, the 
Commission proposed to direct NERC to revise the benchmark GMD event 
definition in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 so that the definition is 
not based solely on spatially-averaged data. Second, the Commission 
proposed to direct NERC to revise Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to 
require the installation of GIC monitors and magnetometers where 
necessary. Third, the Commission proposed to direct NERC to revise 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to require corrective action plans 
(Requirement R7) to be developed within one year and, with respect to 
the mitigation actions called for in the corrective action plans, non-
hardware mitigation actions to be completed within two years of 
finishing development of the corrective action plan and hardware 
mitigation to be completed within four years. The NOPR also proposed to 
direct NERC to submit a work plan and, subsequently, one or more 
informational filings that address specific GMD-related research areas 
and sought comment on certain issues relating to the transformer 
thermal impact assessments (Requirement R6) and the meaning of language 
in Table 1 of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1.
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    \25\ Reliability Standard for Transmission System Planned 
Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events, Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, 80 FR 29,990 (May 26, 2015), 151 FERC ] 61,134 (2015) 
(NOPR).
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    19. On August 20, 2015 and October 2, 2015, the Commission issued 
notices setting supplemental comment periods regarding specific 
documents. On March 1, 2016, Commission staff led a technical 
conference on Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 and issues raised in the 
NOPR.\26\
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    \26\ Written presentations at the March 1, 2016 Technical 
Conference and the Technical Conference transcript referenced in 
this Final Rule are accessible through the Commission's eLibrary 
document retrieval system in Docket No. RM15-11-000.
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    20. On April 28, 2016, NERC made a filing notifying the Commission 
that ``NERC identified new information that may necessitate a minor 
revision to a figure in one of the supporting technical white papers. 
This revision would not require a change to any of the Requirements of 
the proposed Reliability Standard.'' \27\ On June 28, 2016, NERC 
submitted the revised technical white papers referenced in the April 
28, 2016 filing. On June 29, 2016, the Commission issued a notice 
setting a supplemental comment period regarding the revised technical 
white papers submitted by NERC on June 28, 2016.
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    \27\ NERC April 28, 2016 Filing at 1.
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    21. In response to the NOPR and subsequent notices, 28 entities 
filed initial and supplemental comments. We address below the issues 
raised in the NOPR and comments. The Appendix to this Final Rule lists 
the entities that filed comments in response to the NOPR and in 
response to the supplemental comment period notices.

II. Discussion

    22. Pursuant to section 215(d) of the FPA, the Commission approves 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 as just, reasonable, not unduly 
discriminatory or preferential and in the public interest. While we 
recognize that scientific and operational research regarding GMD is 
ongoing, we believe

[[Page 67123]]

that the potential threat to the bulk electric system warrants 
Commission action at this time, including efforts to conduct critical 
GMD research and update Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 as appropriate.
    23. First, we find that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 addresses 
the directives in Order No. 779 corresponding to the development of the 
Second Stage GMD Reliability Standards. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
does this by requiring applicable Bulk-Power System owners and 
operators to conduct, on a recurring five-year cycle,\28\ initial and 
on-going vulnerability assessments regarding the potential impact of a 
benchmark GMD event on the Bulk-Power System as a whole and on Bulk-
Power System components.\29\ In addition, Reliability Standard TPL-007-
1 requires applicable entities to develop and implement corrective 
action plans to mitigate vulnerabilities identified through those 
recurring vulnerability assessments.\30\ Potential mitigation 
strategies identified in the proposed Reliability Standard include, but 
are not limited to, the installation, modification or removal of 
transmission and generation facilities and associated equipment.\31\ 
Accordingly, Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 constitutes an important 
step in addressing the risks posed by GMD events to the Bulk-Power 
System.
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    \28\ A detailed explanation of the five-year GMD Vulnerability 
Assessment and mitigation cycle is provided in paragraph 103, infra.
    \29\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R4; see 
also Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at PP 67, 71.
    \30\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R7; see 
also Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at P 79.
    \31\ See Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R7.
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    24. The Commission also approves the inclusion of the term 
``Geomagnetic Disturbance Vulnerability Assessment or GMD Vulnerability 
Assessment'' in the NERC Glossary; Reliability Standard TPL-007-1's 
associated violation risk factors and violation severity levels; and 
NERC's proposed implementation plan and effective dates. The Commission 
also affirms, as raised for comment in the NOPR, that cost recovery for 
prudent costs associated with or incurred to comply with Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 and future revisions to the Reliability Standard 
will be available to registered entities.\32\
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    \32\ NOPR, 151 FERC ] 61,134 at P 49 n.60.
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    25. While we conclude that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 satisfies 
the directives in Order No. 779, based on the record developed in this 
proceeding, the Commission determines that Reliability Standard TPL-
007-1 should be modified to reflect the new information and analyses 
discussed below, as proposed in the NOPR. Accordingly, pursuant to 
section 215(d)(5) of the FPA, the Commission directs NERC to develop 
and submit modifications to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 concerning: 
(1) The calculation of the reference peak geoelectric field amplitude 
component of the benchmark GMD event definition; (2) the collection and 
public availability of necessary GIC monitoring and magnetometer data; 
and (3) deadlines for completing corrective action plans and the 
mitigation measures called for in corrective action plans. The 
Commission directs NERC to develop and submit these revisions for 
Commission approval within 18 months of the effective date of this 
Final Rule.
    26. Furthermore, to improve the understanding of GMD events 
generally, the Commission directs NERC to submit within six months from 
the effective date of this Final Rule a GMD research work plan.\33\ 
Specifically, we direct NERC to: (1) Further analyze the area over 
which spatial averaging should be calculated for stability studies, 
including performing sensitivity analyses on squares less than 500 km 
per side (e.g., 100 km, 200 km); (2) further analyze earth conductivity 
models by, for example, using metered GIC and magnetometer readings to 
calculate earth conductivity and using 3-D readings; (3) determine 
whether new analyses and observations support modifying the use of 
single station readings around the earth to adjust the spatially 
averaged benchmark for latitude; (4) research, as discussed below, 
aspects of the required thermal impact assessments; and (5) in NERC's 
discretion, conduct any GMD-related research areas generally that may 
impact the development of new or modified GMD Reliability Standards. We 
expect that work completed through the GMD research work plan, as well 
as other analyses facilitated by the increased collection and 
availability of GIC monitoring and magnetometer data directed herein, 
will lead to further modifications to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 as 
our collective understanding of the threats posed by GMD events 
improves.
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    \33\ Following submission of the GMD research work plan, the 
Commission will notice the filing for public comment and issue an 
order addressing its proposed content and schedule.
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    27. Below we discuss the following issues raised in the NOPR and 
NOPR comments: (1) The benchmark GMD event definition described in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Attachment 1 (Calculating Geoelectric 
Fields for the Benchmark GMD Event); (2) transformer thermal impact 
assessments in Requirement R6; (3) GMD research work plan; (4) 
collection and public availability of GIC monitoring and magnetometer 
data; (5) completion of corrective action plans in Requirement R7; (6) 
meaning of ``minimized'' in Table 1 (Steady State Planning Events) of 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1; (7) NERC's proposed implementation plan 
and effective dates; and (8) other issues.

A. Benchmark GMD Event Definition

NERC Petition
    28. NERC states that the purpose of the benchmark GMD event is to 
``provide a defined event for assessing system performance during a low 
probability, high magnitude GMD event.'' \34\ NERC explains that the 
benchmark GMD event represents ``the most severe GMD event expected in 
a 100-year period as determined by a statistical analysis of recorded 
geomagnetic data.'' \35\ The benchmark GMD event definition is used in 
the GMD Vulnerability Assessments and thermal impact assessment 
requirements of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 (Requirements R4 and 
R6).
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    \34\ NERC Petition at 15.
    \35\ Id.
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    29. As noted above, NERC states that the benchmark GMD event 
definition has four elements: (1) A reference peak geoelectric field 
amplitude of 8 V/km derived from statistical analysis of historical 
magnetometer data; (2) a scaling factor to account for local 
geomagnetic latitude; (3) a scaling factor to account for local earth 
conductivity; and (4) a reference geomagnetic field time series or wave 
shape to facilitate time-domain analysis of GMD impact on 
equipment.\36\
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    \36\ NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event 
Description) at 5.
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    30. The standard drafting team determined that a 1-in-100 year GMD 
event would cause an 8 V/km reference peak geoelectric field amplitude 
at 60 degree geomagnetic latitude using Qu[eacute]bec's earth 
conductivity.\37\ The standard drafting team stated that:
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    \37\ Id.

the reference geoelectric field amplitude was determined through 
statistical analysis using . . . field measurements from geomagnetic 
observatories in northern Europe and the reference (Quebec) earth 
model . . . . The Quebec earth model is generally resistive and the 
geological structure is relatively well understood. The statistical 
analysis resulted in a conservative peak geoelectric field amplitude 
of approximately 8 V/km . . . .

[[Page 67124]]

The frequency of occurrence of this benchmark GMD event is estimated 
to be approximately 1 in 100 years.\38\
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    \38\ Id. (footnotes omitted).

    31. The standard drafting team explained that it used field 
measurements taken from the IMAGE magnetometer chain, which covers 
Northern Europe, for the period 1993-2013 to calculate the reference 
peak geoelectric field amplitude used in the benchmark GMD event 
definition.\39\ As described in NERC's petition, the standard drafting 
team ``spatially averaged'' four different station groups of IMAGE 
data, each spanning a square area of approximately 500 km (roughly 310 
miles) in width.\40\ The standard drafting team justified the use of 
spatial averaging by stating that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is 
designed to ``address wide-area effects caused by a severe GMD event, 
such as increased var absorption and voltage depressions. Without 
characterizing GMD on regional scales, statistical estimates could be 
weighted by local effects and suggest unduly pessimistic conditions 
when considering cascading failure and voltage collapse.'' \41\
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    \39\ Id. at 8. The International Monitor for Auroral Geomagnetic 
Effects (IMAGE) consists of 31 magnetometer stations in northern 
Europe maintained by 10 institutes from Estonia, Finland, Germany, 
Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. See IMAGE website, http://space.fmi.fi/image/beta/?page=home#.
    \40\ As applied by the standard drafting team, spatial averaging 
refers to the averaging of geoelectric field amplitude readings 
within a given area. NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD 
Benchmark Event Description) at 9.
    \41\ NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event 
Description) at 9.
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    32. NERC states that the benchmark GMD event includes scaling 
factors to enable applicable entities to tailor the reference peak 
geoelectric field to their specific location for conducting GMD 
Vulnerability Assessments. NERC explains that the scaling factors in 
the benchmark GMD event definition are applied to the reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude to adjust the 8 V/km value for different 
geomagnetic latitudes and earth conductivities.\42\
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    \42\ NERC Petition at 18-19.
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    33. The standard drafting team also identified a reference 
geomagnetic field time series from an Ottawa magnetic observatory 
during a 1989 GMD event that affected Qu[eacute]bec.\43\ The standard 
drafting team used this time series to estimate a geoelectric field, 
represented as a time series (i.e., 10-second values over a period of 
days), that is expected to occur at 60 degree geomagnetic latitude 
during a 1-in-100 year GMD event. NERC explains that this time series 
is used to facilitate time-domain analysis of GMD impacts on 
equipment.\44\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \43\ NERC Petition, Ex. D (White Paper on GMD Benchmark Event 
Description) at 5-6, 15-16 (``the reference geomagnetic field 
waveshape was selected after analyzing a number of recorded GMD 
events . . . the March 13-14, 1989 GMD event, measured at NRCan's 
Ottawa geomagnetic observatory, was selected as the reference 
geomagnetic field waveform because it provides generally 
conservative results when performing thermal analysis of power 
transformers'').
    \44\ Id. at 5-6.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    34. In the sub-sections below, we discuss two issues concerning the 
benchmark GMD event definition addressed in the NOPR: (1) Reference 
peak geoelectric field amplitude; and (2) geomagnetic latitude scaling 
factor.
1. Reference Peak Geoelectric Field Amplitude
NOPR
    35. The NOPR proposed to approve the benchmark GMD event 
definition. The NOPR stated that the ``benchmark GMD event definition 
proposed by NERC complies with the directive in Order No. 779 . . . 
[c]onsistent with the guidance provided in Order No. 779, the benchmark 
GMD event definition proposed by NERC addresses the potential 
widespread impact of a severe GMD event, while taking into 
consideration the variables of geomagnetic latitude and local earth 
conductivity.'' \45\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \45\ NOPR, 151 FERC ] 61,134 at P 32.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    36. In addition, the NOPR proposed to direct NERC to develop 
modifications to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. Specifically, the NOPR 
proposed to direct NERC to modify the reference peak geoelectric field 
amplitude component of the benchmark GMD event definition so that it is 
not calculated based solely on spatially-averaged data. The NOPR 
explained that this could be achieved, for example, by requiring 
applicable entities to conduct GMD Vulnerability Assessments (and, as 
discussed below, thermal impact assessments) using two different 
benchmark GMD events: The first benchmark GMD event using the 
spatially-averaged reference peak geoelectric field value (8 V/km) and 
the second using the non-spatially averaged peak geoelectric field 
value cited in the GMD Interim Report (20 V/km). The NOPR stated that 
the revised Reliability Standard could then require applicable entities 
to take corrective actions, using engineering judgment, based on the 
results of both assessments. The NOPR explained that applicable 
entities would not always be required to mitigate to the level of risk 
identified by the non-spatially averaged analysis; instead, the 
selection of mitigation would reflect the range of risks bounded by the 
two analyses, and be based on engineering judgment within this range, 
considering all relevant information. The NOPR stated that, 
alternatively, NERC could propose an equally efficient and effective 
modification that does not rely exclusively on the spatially-averaged 
reference peak geoelectric field value.
Comments
    37. NERC does not support revising the benchmark GMD event 
definition. NERC maintains that the spatially-averaged reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude value in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is 
``technically-justified, scientifically sound, and has been published 
in a peer-reviewed research journal covering geomagnetism and other 
topics.'' \46\ NERC contends that the standard drafting team determined 
that using the non-spatially averaged 20 V/km figure in the GMD Interim 
Report would ``consistently overestimate the geoelectric field of a 1-
in-100 year GMD event.'' \47\ NERC states that, by contrast, spatial 
averaging ``properly associates the relevant spatial scales for the 
analyzed and applied geoelectric fields and would not distort the 
complexity of the potential impacts of a GMD event.'' \48\ NERC claims 
that the 500 km-wide square areas used to determine the areas of 
spatial averaging are ``based on consideration of transmission systems 
and geomagnetic observation patterns . . . [and are] an appropriate 
scale for a system-wide impact in a transmission system.'' \49\ To 
support this position, NERC cites a June 2015 peer-reviewed publication 
authored in part by some members of the standard drafting team.\50\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \46\ NERC Comments at 6.
    \47\ Id. at 7.
    \48\ Id. at 8.
    \49\ Id.
    \50\ See Pulkkinen, A., Bernabeu, E., Eichner, J., Viljanen, A., 
Ngwira, C., ``Regional-Scale High-Latitude Extreme Geoelectric 
Fields Pertaining to Geomagnetically Induced Currents,'' Earth, 
Planets and Space (June 19, 2015) (2015 Pulkkinen Paper).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    38. Industry commenters, largely represented by the Trade 
Associations' comments, do not support revising the benchmark GMD event 
definition.\51\ The Trade Associations' reasons largely mirror NERC's. 
While recognizing that the spatially-averaged reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude is lower than

[[Page 67125]]

the non-spatially averaged figure, the Trade Associations contend that 
the non-spatially averaged value is inappropriate because: (1) The peak 
geoelectric field only affects relatively small areas and quickly 
declines with distance from the peak; (2) Reliability Standard TPL-007-
1 is intended to address the wide-scale effects of a GMD event; and (3) 
the benchmark GMD event definition is designed to provide a realistic 
estimate of wide-area effects caused by a severe GMD event. The Trade 
Associations contend that a non-spatially averaged reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude ``would be weighted by local effects and 
suggest unrealistic conditions for system analysis . . . [which] could 
lead to unnecessary costs for customers, while yielding very little 
tangible benefit to reliability.'' \52\ Like NERC, the Trade 
Associations cite to the 2015 Pulkkinen Paper to support the use of 500 
km-wide squares in performing the spatial averaging analysis. The Trade 
Associations note, however, that the selection of 500 km is ``only the 
beginning . . . [of the] exploration of spatial geoelectric field 
structures pertaining to extreme GIC.'' \53\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \51\ Trade Associations Comments at 13-18. AEP, APS, ATC, BPA, 
CEA, Hydro One, ITC, Joint ISOs/RTOs and Exelon indicated that they 
do not support the NOPR proposal in separate comments and/or by 
joining the Trade Associations' comments. See AEP Comments at 3; APS 
Comments at 2; ATC Comments at 3; BPA Comments at 3-4; CEA Comments 
at 8-13; Hydro One Comments 1-2; ITC Comments at 3-5; Joint ISOs/
RTOs Comments at 4-5; Exelon Comments at 2.
    \52\ Trade Associations Comments at 15.
    \53\ Id. at 17 (quoting 2015 Pulkkinen Paper at 6).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    39. The Trade Associations, while not supportive of the NOPR 
proposal, recommend that if the Commission remains concerned about 
relying on NERC's proposed spatially-averaged reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude, the Commission should:

allow NERC to further determine the appropriate localized studies to 
be performed by moving the ``local hot spot'' around a planning 
area. This approach may better ensure that the peak values only 
impact a local area instead of unrealistically projecting uniform 
peak values over a broad area. This approach also should better 
align with the Commission's concerns because this type of study 
would more accurately reflect the real-world impact of a GMD event 
on the [Bulk-Power System]. The Trade Associations understand that 
existing planning tools may not yet have such capabilities, but the 
tools can be modified to allow such study.\54\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \54\ Id. at 16.

    40. Industry commenters raise other concerns with the NOPR 
proposal. CEA states that it would be inappropriate to rely on the non-
spatially averaged 20 V/km reference peak geoelectric field figure 
because that figure is found in a single publication. CEA also contends 
that it is impractical to use ``engineering judgment'' to weigh the GMD 
Vulnerability Assessments using the spatially-averaged and non-
spatially averaged reference peak geoelectric field amplitudes, as 
described in the NOPR.\55\ ITC states that NERC's proposal is 
reasonable and that the reference peak geoelectric field amplitude 
value can be revised periodically based on new information. Joint ISOs/
RTOs state that the Commission should afford due weight to NERC's 
technical expertise.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \55\ See also Hydro One Comments at 1-2; Resilient Societies 
Comments at 24-25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    41. A September 2015 paper prepared by the Los Alamos National 
Laboratory states that it analyzed the IMAGE data using a different 
methodology to calculate reference peak geoelectric field amplitude 
values based on each of eight different magnetometer installations in 
Northern Europe. However, unlike the standard drafting team, the Los 
Alamos Paper did not spatially average the IMAGE data. The authors 
calculated peak geoelectric field amplitudes ranging from 8.4 V/km to 
16.6 V/km, with a mean of the eight values equal to 13.2 V/km.\56\ The 
authors used a statistical formula and probability distribution to 
determine their 1-in-100 year GMD event parameters, as opposed to the 
20 V/km non-spatially averaged event from the 2012 paper cited in the 
GMD Interim Report that visually extrapolated the data.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \56\ Rivera, M., Backhaus, S., ``Review of the GMD Benchmark 
Event in TPL-007-1,'' Los Alamos National Laboratory (September 
2015) (Los Alamos Paper).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    42. Roodman contends that ``NERC's 100-year benchmark GMD event is 
appropriately conservative in magnitude (except perhaps in the 
southern-most US) if unrealistic in some other respects.'' \57\ Roodman 
states that ``overall NERC's analytical frame does not strongly clash 
with the data.'' \58\ However, Roodman contends that actual data 
support local hot-spots in a larger region of lower magnitude 
geoelectric fields that are not typically uniform in magnitude or 
direction.\59\ Roodman addresses comments by Kappenman against the 
benchmark GMD event by stating that the Oak Ridge Report's Meta-R-319 
study, authored by Kappenman, modeled a 1-in-100 year GMD event based 
largely on misunderstandings of historic GMDs, both in magnitude and 
geographic footprint.\60\ Roodman recommends that the Commission 
``require a much larger array of events for simulation'' in light of 
the ``deep uncertainty and complexity of the GMD.'' \61\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \57\ Roodman Comments at 4. Roodman criticizes the proposed 
benchmark GMD event definition because it assumes that the induced 
electrical field resulting from a GMD event is spatially uniform. 
Roodman also contends that a GMD event that is less than a 1-in-100 
year storm could potentially damage transformers. Id. at 12-14.
    \58\ Roodman Comments at 9.
    \59\ Id. at 10, 12-13.
    \60\ Id. at 5-6 (citing Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 
Geomagnetic Storms and Their Impacts on the U.S. Power Grid: Meta-R-
319 at pages I-1 to I-3 (January 2010), http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/pes/pubs/ferc_Meta-R-319.pdf (Meta-R-319 Study).
    \61\ Id. at 15.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    43. Commenters opposed to the benchmark GMD event definition 
proposed by NERC maintain that the standard drafting team significantly 
underestimated the reference peak geoelectric field amplitude value for 
a 1-in-100 year GMD event by relying on data from the IMAGE system and 
by applying spatial averaging to that data set.\62\ For example, 
Resilient Societies states that the standard drafting team should have 
analyzed ``real-world data from within the United States and Canada, 
including magnetometer readings from the [USGS] and Natural Resources 
Canada observatories . . . [h]ad NERC and the Standard Drafting Team 
collected and analyzed available real-world data, they would have 
likely found that the severity of GMD in 1-in-100 Year reference storm 
had been set far below a technically justified level and without a 
`strong technical basis.' '' \63\ Likewise, Kappenman contends that 
there are multiple examples where the benchmark GMD event and the 
standard drafting team's model for calculating geoelectric fields 
under-predict actual, historical GIC readings.\64\ Commenters opposed 
to NERC's proposal variously argue that the reference peak geoelectric 
field amplitude should be set at a level commensurate with the 1921 
Railroad Storm or 1859 Carrington Event or at the 20 V/km level cited 
in the GMD Interim Report.\65\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \62\ See, e.g., JINSA Comments at 2; Emprimus Comments at 1. See 
also Gaunt Comments at 9 (indicating that the proposed benchmark GMD 
event definition may underestimate the effects of a 1-in-100 GMD 
event).
    \63\ Resilient Societies Comments at 20-21.
    \64\ Kappenman Comments at 15-29.
    \65\ See, e.g., EIS Comments at 2 (advocating use of 20 V/km); 
Gaunt Comments at 6-9 (contending that NERC's proposed figure 
results in a ``possible underestimation of the effects of GICs'' 
without suggesting an alternative figure); JINSA Comments at 2 
(advocating use of 20 V/km); Emprimus Comments at 1 (advocating use 
of 20 V/km); Briggs Comments at 1 (advocating that the benchmark GMD 
event should be a ``Carrington Class solar superstorm'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Commission Determination
    44. The Commission approves the reference peak geoelectric field 
amplitude figure proposed by NERC. In addition, the Commission, as 
proposed in the NOPR, directs NERC to develop revisions to the 
benchmark GMD event definition so that the reference peak geoelectric 
field amplitude component

[[Page 67126]]

is not based solely on spatially-averaged data. The Commission directs 
NERC to submit this revision within 18 months of the effective date of 
this Final Rule.
    45. NERC and industry comments do not contain new information to 
support relying solely on spatially-averaged data to calculate the 
reference peak geoelectric field amplitude in the benchmark GMD event 
definition. The 2015 Pulkkinen Paper contains the same justifications 
for spatial averaging as those presented in NERC's petition. In 
addition, the 2015 Pulkkinen Paper validates the NOPR's concerns with 
relying solely on spatial averaging generally and with the method used 
by the standard drafting team to spatially average the IMAGE data 
specifically. The 2015 Pulkkinen Paper, for example, states that 
``regional scale geoelectric fields have not been considered earlier 
from the statistical and extreme analyses standpoint'' and ``selection 
of an area of 500 km [for spatial averaging] . . . [is] subjective.'' 
\66\ Further, the 2015 Pulkkinen Paper notes that ``we emphasize that 
the work described in this paper is only the beginning in our 
exploration of spatial geoelectric field structures pertaining to 
extreme GIC . . . [and] [w]e will . . . expand the statistical analyses 
to include characterization of multiple different spatial scales.'' 
\67\ On the latter point, NERC ``agrees that such research would 
provide additional modeling insights and supports further collaborative 
efforts between space weather researchers and electric utilities 
through the NERC GMD Task Force.'' \68\ These statements support the 
NOPR's observation that the use of spatial averaging in this context is 
new, and thus there is a dearth of information or research regarding 
its application or appropriate scale.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \66\ 2015 Pulkkinen Paper at 2.
    \67\ Id. at 6.
    \68\ NERC Comments at 8.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    46. While we believe our directive addresses concerns with relying 
solely on spatially-averaged data, we reiterate the position expressed 
in the NOPR that a GMD event will have a peak value in one or more 
location(s) and the amplitude will decline over distance from the peak; 
and, as a result, imputing the highest peak geoelectric field value in 
a planning area to the entire planning area may incorrectly 
overestimate GMD impacts.\69\ Accordingly, our directive should not be 
construed to prohibit the use of spatial averaging in some capacity, 
particularly if more research results in a better understanding of how 
spatial averaging can be used to reflect actual GMD events.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \69\ NOPR, 151 FERC ] 61,134 at P 35.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    47. The NOPR proposed to direct NERC to revise Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 so that the reference peak geoelectric field value is not 
based solely on spatially-averaged data. NERC and industry comments 
largely focused on the NOPR's discussion of one possible example to 
address the directive (i.e., by running GMD Vulnerability Assessments 
using spatially-averaged and non-spatially averaged reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitudes). However, while the method discussed in 
the NOPR is one possible option, the NOPR did not propose to direct 
NERC to develop revisions based on that option or any specific option. 
The Trade Associations' comments, discussed above, demonstrate that 
there is another way to address the NOPR directive (i.e., by performing 
planning models that also assess planning areas for localized ``hot 
spots''). This approach may have merit if, for example, the geographic 
size of the hot spot is supported by actual data and the hot spot is 
centered over one or more locations that include an entity's facilities 
that become critical during a GMD event. Without pre-judging how NERC 
proposes to address the Commission's directive, NERC's response to this 
directive should satisfy the NOPR's concern that reliance on spatially-
averaged data alone does not address localized peaks that could 
potentially affect the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System.
    48. We believe our directive should also largely address the 
comments submitted by entities opposed to NERC's proposed reference 
peak geoelectric field amplitude. Those commenters endorsed using a 
higher reference peak geoelectric field amplitude value, such as the 20 
V/km cited in the GMD Interim Report. At the outset, we observe that 
the comments critical of the standard drafting team's use of the IMAGE 
data only speculate that had the standard drafting team used other 
sources, the calculated reference peak geoelectric field amplitude 
value would have been higher.\70\ Moreover, among the commenters 
critical of NERC's proposal, there is disagreement over the magnitude 
of historical storms which some of these commenters would use as a 
model.\71\ While NERC has discretion on how to propose to address our 
directive, NERC could revise Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to apply a 
higher reference peak geoelectric field amplitude value to assess the 
impact of localized hot spots on the Bulk-Power System, as suggested by 
the Trade Associations. The effects of such hot spots could include 
increases in GIC levels, volt-ampere reactive power consumption, 
harmonics on the Bulk-Power System (and associated misoperations) and 
transformer heating. Moreover, the directive to revise Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 and, as discussed below, the directives to research 
geomagnetic latitude scaling factors and earth conductivity models as 
part of the GMD research work plan and to revise Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 to require the collection of necessary GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data to validate GMD models should largely address or at 
least help to focus-in on factors that may be causing any inaccuracies 
in the standard drafting team's model.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \70\ See, e.g., Resilient Societies Comments at 21 (``Had NERC 
and the Standard Drafting Team collected and analyzed available 
real-world data, they would have likely found that the severity of 
GMD in 1-in-100 Year reference storm had been set far below a 
technically justified level . . .'' (emphasis added)).
    \71\ See, e.g., Gaunt Comments at 13 (stating that the 1859 
Carrington Event is ``probably outside the re-occurrence frequency 
of 1:100 years adopted by NERC for the benchmark event''); Briggs 
Comments at 1 (advocating using a `` `Carrington Class' super 
storm'' as the benchmark GMD event).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    49. Consistent with Order No. 779, the Commission does not specify 
a particular reference peak geoelectric field amplitude value that 
should be applied to hot spots given present uncertainties. While 20 V/
km would seem to be a possible value, the Los Alamos Paper suggests 
that the 20 V/km figure may be too high. The Los Alamos Paper analyzed 
the non-spatially averaged IMAGE data to calculate a reference peak 
geoelectric field amplitude range (i.e., 8.4 V/km to 16.6 V/km) that is 
between NERC's proposed spatially-averaged value of 8 V/km and the non-
spatially averaged 20 V/km figure cited in the GMD Interim Report.
    50. Although the NOPR did not propose to direct NERC to submit 
revisions to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 by a certain date with 
respect to the benchmark GMD event definition, the Commission 
determines that it is appropriate to impose an 18-month deadline from 
the effective date of this Final Rule. As discussed below, the 
Commission approves the five-year implementation period for Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 proposed by NERC. Having NERC submit revisions to 
the benchmark GMD event definition within 18 months of the effective 
date of this Final Rule, with the Commission acting promptly on the 
revised Reliability Standard, should afford

[[Page 67127]]

enough time to apply the revised benchmark GMD event definition in the 
first GMD Vulnerability Assessment under the timeline set forth in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1's implementation plan. If circumstances, 
such as the complexity of the revised benchmark GMD event, require it, 
NERC may propose and justify a revised implementation plan.
2. Geomagnetic Latitude Scaling Factor
NOPR
    51. The NOPR proposed to approve the geomagnetic latitude scaling 
factor in NERC's proposed benchmark GMD event definition. However, the 
NOPR sought comment on whether, in light of studies indicating that GMD 
events could have pronounced effects on lower geomagnetic latitudes, a 
modification is warranted to reduce the impact of the scaling 
factors.\72\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \72\ NOPR, 151 FERC ] 61,134 at P 37 (citing Ngwira, C.M., 
Pulkkinen, A., Kuznetsova, M.M., Glocer, A., ``Modeling extreme 
`Carrington-type' space weather events using three-dimensional 
global MHD simulations,'' 119 Journal of Geophysical Research: Space 
Physics 4472 (2014) (finding that in Carrington-type events ``the 
region of large induced ground electric fields is displaced further 
equatorward . . . [and] thereby may affect power grids . . . such as 
[those in] southern states of [the] continental U.S.''); Gaunt, 
C.T., Coetzee, G., ``Transformer Failures in Regions Incorrectly 
Considered to have Low GIC-Risk,'' 2007 IEEE Lausanne 807 (July 
2007) (stating that twelve transformers were damaged and taken out 
of service in South Africa (at -40 degrees latitude) during the 
October 2003 Halloween Storm GMD event)). See also Liu, C., Li, Y., 
Pirjola, R., ``Observations and modeling of GIC in the Chinese 
large-scale high-voltage power networks,'' Journal Space Weather 
Space Climate 4 at A03-p6 (2014) (Liu Paper), http://www.swsc-journal.org/articles/swsc/pdf/2014/01/swsc130009.pdf (finding that 
GICs of about 25A/phase had been measured in a transformer at a 
nuclear power plant at 22.6 degrees north latitude (significantly 
further away from the magnetic pole than Florida)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comments
    52. NERC contends that the geomagnetic latitude scaling factor in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 ``accurately models the reduction of 
induced geoelectric fields that occurs over the mid-latitude region 
during a 100-year GMD event scenario . . . [and] describes the observed 
drop in geoelectric field that has been exhibited in analysis of major 
recorded geomagnetic storms.'' \73\ NERC maintains that modifying the 
scaling factor is not technically justified based on the publications 
cited in the NOPR. NERC states that the first paper cited in the NOPR 
is based on models that are not mature and reflect a 1-in-150 year 
storm. NERC contends that the second paper does not clearly show that 
the purported transformer damage in South Africa was the result of 
abnormally high GICs during the October 2003 Halloween Storm. NERC 
further states that the standard drafting team analyzed the October 
2003 Halloween Storm when developing the proposed geomagnetic latitude 
scaling factor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \73\ NERC Comments at 9 (citing Ngwira, C., Pulkkinen, A., 
Wilder, F., Crowley, G., ``Extended Study of Extreme Geoelectric 
Field Event Scenarios for Geomagnetically Induced Current 
Applications,'' 11 Space Weather 121 (2013) (Ngwira 2013 Paper)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    53. The Trade Associations support the geomagnetic latitude scaling 
factor proposed by NERC. Like NERC, the Trade Associations contend that 
the papers cited in the NOPR do not support modifications because the 
models in the first paper ``remain highly theoretical and not 
sufficiently validated'' and because the second paper likely involved 
other causal factors leading to the transformer failure.\74\ Joint 
ISOs/RTOs also support the geomagnetic latitude scaling factor proposed 
by NERC. ITC states that NERC's proposal is a ``reasonable approach 
given the current state of the science pertaining to GMD . . . [but] 
that as the science pertaining to GMD matures and more data becomes 
available, the scaling factors should be revisited and revised.'' \75\ 
ITC suggests revisiting the geomagnetic latitude scaling factor every 
five years to incorporate any new developments in GMD science.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \74\ Trade Associations Comments at 18-19.
    \75\ Joint ISOs/RTOs Comments at 5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    54. Several commenters question or disagree with the geomagnetic 
latitude scaling factors in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 based on 
simulations and reports of damage to transformers in areas expected to 
be at low risk due to their geomagnetic latitude.\76\ EIS contends that 
the proposed geomagnetic latitude scaling factor's assumption of a 
storm centered at 60 degrees geomagnetic latitude is inconsistent with 
a study relied upon by NERC.\77\ The Los Alamos Paper's analysis 
suggests that NERC's proposed geomagnetic latitude scaling factors, 
while they fit well with weaker historical GMD events from which they 
were derived, may not accurately represent the effects of a 1-in-100 
year GMD event at lower geomagnetic latitudes. The Los Alamos Paper 
states that a model of the electrojet is needed to ``effectively 
extrapolate the small to moderate disturbance data currently in the 
historical record to disturbances as large as the TPL-007-1 Benchmark 
Event.'' \78\ The Los Alamos Paper uses a larger number of geomagnetic 
disturbances (122 instead of 12) and a wider range of observatories by 
using the world-wide SuperMAG magnetometer array data, which includes 
the INTERMAGNET data used to support NERC's geomagnetic latitude 
scaling factors. The Los Alamos Paper shows that for more severe storms 
(Dst <-300, for which there are nine storms in the data set) the NERC 
scaling factors tend to be low, off by a factor of up to two or three 
at some latitudes. The Los Alamos Paper also recommends ``an additional 
degree of conservatism in the mid-geomagnetic latitudes'' until such 
time as a model is developed.\79\ The Los Alamos Paper authors 
recommend a factor of 2 as a conservative correction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ See, e.g., Gaunt Comments at 6; JINSA Comments at 2; 
Emprimus Comments at 2-3; Roodman Comments at 9; Resilient Societies 
Comments at 31-31; Kappenman Comments at 41-42.
    \77\ EIS Comments at 5 (citing Ngwira 2013 Paper).
    \78\ Los Alamos Paper at 12.
    \79\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Commission Determination
    55. The Commission approves the geomagnetic latitude scaling factor 
in the benchmark GMD event definition. In addition, the Commission 
directs NERC to conduct further research on geomagnetic latitude 
scaling factors as part of the GMD research work plan discussed below.
    56. Based on the record, the Commission finds sufficient evidence 
to conclude that lower geomagnetic latitudes are, to some degree, less 
susceptible to the effects of GMD events. The issue identified in the 
NOPR and by some commenters focused on the specific scaling factors in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 in light of some analyses and anecdotal 
evidence suggesting that lower geomagnetic latitudes may be impacted by 
GMDs to a larger degree than reflected in Reliability Standard TPL-007-
1.
    57. The geomagnetic latitude scaling factor in Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 is supported by some of the available research.\80\ In 
addition, with the

[[Page 67128]]

exception of the Los Alamos Paper, commenters did not provide new 
information on the proposed scaling factor nor did commenters suggest 
alternative scaling factors. However, the Commission finds that there 
are enough questions regarding the effects of GMDs at lower geomagnetic 
latitudes to warrant directing NERC to study this issue further as part 
of the GMD research work plan. The Los Alamos Paper and the sources 
cited in the NOPR are suggestive that a 1-in-100 year GMD event could 
have a greater impact on lower geomagnetic latitudes than NERC's 
proposed scaling factor assumes. But, as the Los Alamos Paper 
recognizes, the current absence of historical data on large GMD events 
precludes a definitive conclusion based on an empirical analysis of 
historical observations. Moreover, in prepared comments for the March 
1, 2016 Technical Conference, Dr. Backhaus, one of the authors of the 
Los Alamos Paper, recommended that ``the current NERC analysis should 
be adopted and further analysis performed with additional observational 
data and severe disturbance modeling efforts with the intent of 
refining the geomagnetic latitude scaling law in future revisions.'' 
\81\ The Commission directs NERC to reexamine the geomagnetic latitude 
scaling factors in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 as part of the GMD 
research work plan, including using existing models and developing new 
models to extrapolate from historical data on small to moderate GMD 
events the impacts of a large, 1-in-100 year GMD event on lower 
geomagnetic latitudes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \80\ See NERC Comments at 9 (citing Ngwira 2013 Paper). We 
disagree with the contention made by EIS that NERC's proposed 
geomagnetic latitude scaling factors are inconsistent with the 
Ngwira 2013 Paper. EIS maintains that the Ngwira 2013 Paper supports 
the conclusion that the benchmark GMD event should be centered at 50 
degrees geomagnetic latitude instead of the 60 degree geomagnetic 
latitude figure in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. The Ngwira 2013 
Paper contains no such conclusion. Instead, the Ngwira 2013 Paper 
found that the latitude threshold boundary is a transition region 
having a definite lower bound of 50 degrees geomagnetic latitude but 
with an upper range as high as 55 degrees geomagnetic latitude. 
Ngwira 2013 Paper at 127, 130. The Ngwira 2013 Paper also stated 
that its findings were ``in agreement with earlier observations by 
[Thomson et al., 2011] and more recently by [Pulkkinen et al., 
2012], which estimated the location to be within 50 [degrees]-62 
[degrees].'' Id. at 124.
    \81\ Statement of Scott Backhaus, March 1, 2016 Technical 
Conference at 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Thermal Impact Assessments

NERC Petition
    58. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R6 requires owners 
of transformers that are subject to the Reliability Standard to conduct 
thermal analyses to determine if the transformers would be able to 
withstand the thermal effects associated with a benchmark GMD event. 
NERC states that transformers are exempt from the thermal impact 
assessment requirement if the maximum effective GIC in the transformer 
is less than 75 A/phase during the benchmark GMD event as determined by 
an analysis of the system. NERC explains that ``based on available 
power transformer measurement data, transformers with an effective GIC 
of less than 75 A/phase during the Benchmark GMD Event are unlikely to 
exceed known temperature limits established by technical 
organizations.'' \82\
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    \82\ NERC Petition at 30.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    59. As provided in Requirements R5 and R6, ``the maximum GIC value 
for the worst case geoelectric field orientation for the benchmark GMD 
event described in Attachment 1'' determines whether a transformer 
satisfies the 75 A/phase threshold. If the 75 A/phase threshold is 
satisfied, Requirement R6 states, in relevant part, that a thermal 
impact assessment should be conducted on the qualifying transformer 
based on the effective GIC flow information provided in Requirement R5.
    60. In its June 28, 2016 filing, NERC states that it identified an 
error in Figure 1 (Upper Bound of Peak Metallic Hot Spot Temperatures 
Calculated Using the Benchmark GMD Event) of the White Paper on 
Screening Criterion for Transformer Thermal Impact Assessment that 
resulted in incorrect plotting of simulated power transformer peak hot-
spot heating from the benchmark GMD event. NERC revised Figure 1 in the 
White Paper on Screening Criterion for Transformer Thermal Impact 
Assessment and made corresponding revisions to related text, figures 
and tables throughout the technical white papers supporting the 
proposed standard. NERC maintains that even with the revision to Figure 
1, ``the standard drafting team determined that the 75 A per phase 
threshold for transformer thermal impact assessment remains a valid 
criterion . . . [and] it is not necessary to revise any Requirements of 
the proposed Reliability Standard.'' \83\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \83\ NERC June 28, 2016 Filing at 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOPR
    61. The NOPR proposed to approve the transformer thermal impact 
assessments in Requirement R6. In addition, as with the benchmark GMD 
event definition, the NOPR proposed to direct NERC to revise 
Requirement R6 to require registered entities to apply spatially 
averaged and non-spatially averaged peak geoelectric field values, or 
some equally efficient and effective alternative, when conducting 
thermal impact assessments. The NOPR also noted that Requirement R6 
does not use the maximum GIC-producing orientation to conduct the 
thermal assessment for qualifying transformers; instead, the 
requirement uses the effective GIC time series described in Requirement 
R5.2 to conduct the thermal assessment on qualifying transformers. The 
NOPR sought comment from NERC as to why qualifying transformers are not 
assessed for thermal impacts using the maximum GIC-producing 
orientation and directed NERC to address whether, by not using the 
maximum GIC-producing orientation, the required thermal impact 
assessments could underestimate the impact of a benchmark GMD event on 
a qualifying transformer.
Comments
    62. NERC opposes modifying the thermal impact assessments in 
Requirement R6 so that the assessments do not rely only on spatially-
averaged data. NERC claims that the benchmark GMD event definition will 
``result in GIC calculations that are appropriately scaled for system-
wide assessments.'' \84\ NERC also contends that the ``analysis 
performed by the standard drafting team of the impact of localized 
enhanced geoelectric fields on the GIC levels in transformers indicates 
that relatively few transformers in the system are affected.'' \85\ In 
response to the question in the NOPR of why qualifying transformers are 
not assessed for thermal impacts using the maximum GIC producing 
orientation, NERC states that ``the orientation of the geomagnetic 
field varies widely and continuously during a GMD event . . . [and] 
would be aligned with the maximum GIC-producing orientation for only a 
few minutes.'' \86\ NERC concludes that ``[i]n the context of 
transformer hot spot heating with time constants in the order of tens 
of minutes, alignment with any particular orientation for a few minutes 
at a particular point in time is not a driving concern.'' \87\ NERC 
further states that the wave shape used in Reliability Standard TPL-
007-1 provides ``generally conservative results when performing thermal 
analysis of power transformers.'' \88\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \84\ NERC Comments at 17.
    \85\ Id.
    \86\ Id. at 19.
    \87\ Id.
    \88\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    63. The Trade Associations and CEA do not support the proposed NOPR 
directive because, they state, it focuses too heavily on individual 
transformers. The Trade Associations maintain that Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 ``was never intended to address specific localized areas that 
might experience peak conditions and affect what we understand to be a 
very small number of assets that are unlikely to initiate a cascading 
outage.'' \89\
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    \89\ Trade Associations Comments at 21.

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[[Page 67129]]

    64. Certain non-industry commenters contend that the 75 A/phase 
qualifying threshold for thermal impact assessments is not technically 
justified. Emprimus contends that ``many transformers have GIC ratings 
less than 75 amps per phase,'' but Emprimus claims that an Idaho 
National Lab study showed that ``GIC introduced at 10 amps per phase on 
high voltage transformers exceed harmonic levels allowed under IEEE 
519.'' \90\ Emprimus also maintains that a 2013 IEEE paper ``suggest[s] 
that there can be generator rotor damage at GIC levels which exceed 50 
amps per phase.'' \91\ Gaunt contends, based on his analysis of 
historical events, that ``degradation is initiated in transformers by 
currents that are significantly below the 75 amps per phase.'' \92\ 
Gaunt states that ``[u]ntil better records are kept of transformer 
[dissolved gas in oil analysis] and transformer failure, the proposed 
level of 75 [A/phase] of GIC needed to initiate assessment of 
transformer response must be considered excessively high.'' \93\ Gaunt 
recommends a qualifying threshold of 15 amps per phase. Resilient 
Societies states that the 75 A/phase threshold is based on a 
mathematical model for one type of transformer and that several tests 
referenced in the standard drafting team's White Paper on Transformer 
Thermal Impact Assessment were carried out under no load or minimal 
load conditions. In addition, Resilient Societies contends that 
applying the 75 A/phase threshold and NERC's proposed benchmark GMD 
event (i.e., using the spatially-averaged reference peak geoelectric 
field amplitude) results in only ``two out of approximately 560 extra 
high voltage transformers'' requiring thermal impact assessments in the 
PJM region; only one 345 kV transformer requiring thermal impact 
assessment in Maine; and zero transformers requiring thermal impact 
assessments in ATC's network.\94\ Kappenman contends that the 75 A/
phase threshold does not consider transformers with tertiary windings 
or autotransformers which may be impacted at lower GIC levels than 75 
A/phase.\95\
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    \90\ Emprimus Comments at 4.
    \91\ Id.
    \92\ Gaunt Comments at 13.
    \93\ Id. at 14.
    \94\ Resilient Societies Comments at 5-14. Resilient Societies 
states that modeling performed by Central Maine Power Co. and 
Emprimus for the Maine Public Utilities Commission indicates that 
eight 345 kV transformers (53 percent according to Resilient 
Societies) would require thermal impact assessments in Maine if the 
reference peak geoelectric field amplitude were set at 20 V/km. Id. 
at 10. Resilient Societies also contends that this result is 
consistent with the Oak Ridge Meta-R-319 Study's finding that eight 
transformers would be ``at risk'' in Maine under a `` `30 Amp At-
Risk Threshold scenario.' '' Id. Central Maine Power Co. calculated 
that the scaled NERC benchmark GMD event for the northernmost point 
in Maine would be 4.53 V/km. Resilient Societies' calculations 
regarding ATC estimate that the scaled benchmark GMD event for 
Wisconsin would be 2 V/km. Id. at 14.
    \95\ The Commission received two comments following NERC's June 
28, 2016 Filing. However, the supplemental comments did not 
specifically address the revisions submitted in NERC's June 28, 2016 
filing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Commission Determination
    65. Consistent with our determination above regarding the reference 
peak geoelectric field amplitude value, the Commission directs NERC to 
revise Requirement R6 to require registered entities to apply spatially 
averaged and non-spatially averaged peak geoelectric field values, or 
some equally efficient and effective alternative, when conducting 
thermal impact assessments.
    66. In the NOPR, the Commission requested comment from NERC 
regarding why Requirement R6 does not use the maximum GIC-producing 
orientation to conduct the thermal assessment for qualifying 
transformers. After considering NERC's response, we continue to have 
concerns with not using the maximum GIC-producing orientation for the 
thermal assessment of transformers. However, at this time we do not 
direct NERC to modify Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. Instead, as part 
of the GMD research work plan discussed below, NERC is directed to 
study this issue to determine how the geoelectric field time series can 
be applied to a particular transformer so that the orientation of the 
time series, over time, will maximize GIC flow in the transformer, and 
to include the results in a filing with the Commission.
    67. We are not persuaded by the comments opposed to Requirement 
R6's application of a 75 A/phase qualifying threshold. The standard 
drafting team's White Paper on Thermal Screening Criterion, as revised 
by NERC in the June 28, 2016 Filing, provides an adequate technical 
basis to approve NERC's proposal. As noted in the revised White Paper 
on Thermal Screening Criterion, the calculated metallic hot spot 
temperature corresponding to an effective GIC of 75 A/phase is 172 
degrees Celsius; that figure is higher than the original figure of 150 
degrees Celsius calculated by the standard drafting team but is still 
below the 200 degree Celsius limit specified in IEEE Std C57.91-
2011.\96\ The comments, particularly those of Gaunt, attempt to 
correlate historical transformer failures to past GMD events (e.g., 
2003 Halloween Storm), while arguing that the transformers damaged in 
those events did not experience GICs of 75 A/phase. The evidence 
adduced by Gaunt and others is inconclusive.\97\ We therefore direct 
NERC to include further analysis of the thermal impact assessment 
qualifying threshold in the GMD research work plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \96\ NERC June 28, 2016 Filing, Revised White Paper on Screening 
Criterion for Transformer Thermal Impact Assessment at 3.
    \97\ See, e.g., Gaunt Comments at 13 (``Although it has not been 
possible to assemble an exact model of the power system during the 
period 29-31 October 2003, and data on the ground conductivity in 
Southern Africa is not known with great certainty, we are confident 
that the several calculations of GIC that been carried out are not 
grossly inaccurate.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    68. In NOPR comments and in comments to the standard drafting team, 
Kappenman stated that delta winding heating due to harmonics has not 
been adequately considered by the standard drafting team and that, 
thermally, this is a bigger concern than metallic hot spot heating.\98\ 
The standard drafting team responded that the vulnerability described 
for tertiary winding harmonic heating is based on the assumption that 
delta winding currents can be calculated using the turns ratio between 
primary and tertiary winding, which is incorrect when a transformer is 
under saturation.\99\ The standard drafting team concluded that 
Kappenman's concerns regarding delta windings being a problem from a 
thermal standpoint are unwarranted and that the criteria developed by 
the standard drafting team use state-of-the-art analysis methods and 
measurement-supported transformer models. The Commission believes that 
the heating effects of harmonics on transformers, as discussed at the 
March 1, 2016 Technical Conference, are of concern and require further 
research.\100\ Accordingly, we direct NERC to address the effects of 
harmonics, including tertiary winding harmonic heating and any other 
effects on transformers, as part of the GMD research work plan.\101\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \98\ Kappenman Comments at 45.
    \99\ Consideration of Comments Project 2013-03 Geomagnetic 
Disturbance Mitigation at 39 (December 5, 2014), http://www.nerc.com/pa/Stand/Project201303GeomagneticDisturbanceMitigation/Comment%20Report%20_2013-03_GMD_12052014.pdf.
    \100\ At the March 1, 2016 Technical Conference, Dr. Horton, a 
member of the standard drafting team, discussed the potential 
negative impacts of harmonics generated by GMDs on protection 
systems, reactive power resources and generators. Slide Presentation 
of Randy Horton, March 1, 2016 Technical Conference at 2-6.
    \101\ NERC indicated in its comments that it is already studying 
the issue of harmonics. NERC Comments at 14 (``NERC is collaborating 
with researchers to examine more complex GMD vulnerability issues, 
such as harmonics and mitigation assessment techniques, to enhance 
the modeling capabilities of the industry'').

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[[Page 67130]]

C. GMD Research Work Plan

NOPR

    69. The NOPR proposed to address the need for more data and 
certainty regarding GMD events and their potential effect on the Bulk-
Power System by directing NERC to submit informational filings that 
address GMD-related research areas. The NOPR proposed to direct NERC to 
submit in the first filing a GMD research work plan indicating how NERC 
plans to: (1) Further analyze the area over which spatial averaging 
should be calculated for stability studies, including performing 
sensitivity analyses on squares less than 500 km per side (e.g., 100 
km, 200 km); (2) further analyze earth conductivity models by, for 
example, using metered GIC and magnetometer readings to calculate earth 
conductivity and using 3-D readings; (3) determine whether new analyses 
and observations support modifying the use of single station readings 
around the earth to adjust the spatially averaged benchmark for 
latitude; and (4) assess how to make GMD data (e.g., GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data) available to researchers for study.
    70. With respect to GIC monitoring and magnetometer readings, the 
NOPR sought comment on the barriers, if any, to public dissemination of 
such readings, including if their dissemination poses a security risk 
and if any such data should be treated as Critical Energy 
Infrastructure Information or otherwise restricted to authorized users. 
The NOPR proposed that NERC submit the GMD research work plan within 
six months of the effective date of a final rule in this proceeding. 
The NOPR also proposed that the GMD research work plan submitted by 
NERC should include a schedule for submitting one or more informational 
filings that apprise the Commission of the results of the four 
additional study areas, as well as any other relevant developments in 
GMD research, and should assess whether Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
remains valid in light of new information or whether revisions are 
appropriate.
Comments
    71. NERC states that continued GMD research is necessary and that 
the potential impacts of GMDs on reliability are evolving. NERC, 
however, prefers that the NERC GMD Task Force continue its research 
without the GMD research work plan proposed in the NOPR. NERC contends 
that allowing the NERC GMD Task Force to continue its work would 
``accomplish NERC's and the Commission's shared goals in advancing GMD 
understanding and knowledge, while providing the flexibility necessary 
for NERC to work effectively with its international research partners 
to address risks to the reliability of the North American Bulk-Power 
System.'' \102\ NERC also claims that, in addition to being unnecessary 
given the work of the NERC GMD Task Force, the NOPR proposal ``poses 
practical challenges . . . [because it would] bind[] NERC to a specific 
and inflexible research plan and report schedule to be determined six 
months (or even a year) following the effective date of a final rule in 
this proceeding.'' \103\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \102\ NERC Comments at 13.
    \103\ Id. at 16.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    72. The Trade Associations and CEA do not support the GMD research 
work plan. Instead, they contend that NERC should be allowed to pursue 
GMD research independently.
    73. Several commenters, while not addressing the NOPR proposal 
specifically, state that additional research is necessary to validate 
or improve elements of the benchmark GMD event definition.\104\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ See, e.g., USGS Comments at 1 (addressing earth 
conductivity models), Bardin Comments at 2 (addressing earth 
conductivity models); Roodman Comments at 3 (addressing reference 
peak geoelectric field amplitude); Gaunt Comments at 7 (addressing 
spatial averaging).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    74. The Trade Associations state that monitoring data should be 
available for academic research purposes. Resilient Societies contends 
that monitoring data should be publicly disseminated on a regular basis 
and that there is no security risk in releasing such data because they 
relate to naturally occurring phenomena. Emprimus states that it 
supports making GIC and magnetometer monitoring data available to the 
public. Bardin supports making GIC and GMD-related information to the 
public or at least to ``legitimate researchers.''
    75. Hydro One and CEA do not support mandatory data sharing without 
the use of non-disclosure agreements.
Commission Determination
    76. The Commission recognizes, as do commenters both supporting and 
opposing proposed Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, that our collective 
understanding of the threats posed by GMD is evolving as additional 
research and analysis are conducted. These ongoing efforts are critical 
to the nation's long-term efforts to protect the grid against a major 
GMD event. While we approve NERC's proposed Reliability Standard TPL-
007-1 and direct certain modifications, as described above, the 
Commission also concludes that facilitating additional research and 
analysis is necessary to adequately address these threats. As discussed 
in the next two sections of this final rule, the Commission directs a 
three-prong approach to further those efforts by directing NERC to: (1) 
Develop, submit, and implement a GMD research work plan; (2) develop 
revisions to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to require responsible 
entities to collect GIC monitoring and magnetometer data; and (3) 
collect GIC monitoring and magnetometer data from registered entities 
for the period beginning May 2013, including both data existing as of 
the date of this order and new data going forward, and to make that 
information available.
    77. First, the Commission adopts the NOPR proposal and directs NERC 
to submit a GMD research work plan and, subsequently, informational 
filings that address the GMD-related research areas identified in the 
NOPR, additional research tasks identified in this Final Rule (i.e., 
the research tasks identified in the thermal impact assessment 
discussion above) and, in NERC's discretion, any GMD-related research 
areas generally that may impact the development of new or modified GMD 
Reliability Standards.\105\ The GMD research work plan should be 
submitted within six months of the effective date of this final rule. 
The research required by this directive should be informed by ongoing 
GMD-related research efforts of entities such as USGS, National 
Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration, Department of Energy, academia and other publicly 
available contributors, including work performed for the National Space 
Weather Action Plan.\106\
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    \105\ The GMD research work plan need not address the fourth 
research area identified in the NOPR (i.e., assess how to make GIC 
monitoring and magnetometer data available to researchers for study) 
given the Commission's directive and discussion below regarding the 
collection and dissemination of necessary GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data.
    \106\ National Science and Technology Council, National Space 
Weather Action Plan (October 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/final_nationalspaceweatheractionplan_20151028.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    78. As part of the second research area identified in the NOPR 
(i.e., further analyze earth conductivity models by, for example, using 
metered GIC and

[[Page 67131]]

magnetometer readings to calculate earth conductivity and using 3-D 
readings), the GMD research work plan should specifically investigate 
``coastal effects'' on ground conductivity models.
    79. In addition, the large variances described by USGS in actual 3-
D ground conductivity data raise the question of whether one time 
series geomagnetic field is sufficient for vulnerability assessments. 
The characteristics, including frequencies, of the time series interact 
with the ground conductivity to produce the geoelectric field that 
drives the GIC. Therefore, the research should address whether 
additional realistic time series should be selected to perform 
assessments in order to capture the time series that produces the most 
vulnerability for an area.
    80. The comments largely agree that additional GMD research should 
be pursued, particularly with respect to the elements of the benchmark 
GMD event definition (i.e., the reference peak geoelectric field 
amplitude value, geomagnetic latitude scaling factor, and earth 
conductivity scaling factor). There is ample evidence in the record to 
support the need for additional GMD-related research.\107\ For example, 
USGS submitted comments indicating that USGS's one dimensional ground 
electrical conductivity models used by the standard drafting team have 
a ``significant limitation'' in that they assume that a ``[one 
dimensional] conductivity-with-depth profile can adequately represent a 
large geographic region,'' which USGS describes as a ``gross 
simplification.'' \108\ USGS observes that while the ``proposed 
standard attempted to incorporate the best scientific research 
available . . . it must be noted that the supporting science is quickly 
evolving.'' \109\ USGS recommends that ``the proposed standard should 
establish a process for updates and improvements that acknowledges and 
addresses the quickly evolving nature of relevant science and 
associated data.'' \110\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \107\ See, e.g., NERC October 22, 2015 Supplemental Comments at 
7-8 (expressing support for additional research regarding 
geomagnetic latitude scaling factors and earth conductivity models).
    \108\ USGS Comments at 1.
    \109\ Id.
    \110\ Id. We note that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Att. 1 
(Calculating Geoelectric Fields for the Benchmark GMD Event) already 
provides that a ``planner can also use specific earth model(s) with 
documented justification . . .'' Accordingly, Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 includes a mechanism for incorporating improvements in 
earth conductivity models when calculating the benchmark GMD event.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    81. Opposition to the proposal centers on the contention that the 
proposed directive is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive 
given the continuing work of the NERC GMD Task Force. We do not find 
these comments persuasive. Our directive requires NERC to submit a work 
plan for the study of GMD-related issues that are already being 
examined or that NERC agrees should be studied.\111\ Nothing in our 
directive precludes NERC from continuing to use the NERC GMD Task Force 
as a vehicle for conducting the directed research or other research. 
Indeed, we encourage NERC to continue to use the GMD Task Force as a 
forum for engagement with interested stakeholders. In addition, we do 
not set specific deadlines for completion of the research; we only 
require NERC to submit the GMD research work plan within six months of 
the effective date of a final rule. The GMD research work plan, in 
turn, should include target dates for the completion of research topics 
and the reporting of findings to the Commission. The Commission intends 
to notice and invite comment on the GMD research work plan. An 
extension of time to submit the GMD research work plan may be available 
if six months proves to be insufficient. In addition, given the 
uncertainties commonly associated with complex research projects, the 
Commission will be flexible regarding changes to the tasks and target 
dates established in the GMD research work plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \111\ See, e.g., NERC Comments at 8 (``NERC agrees that [spatial 
averaging] research would provide additional modeling insights and 
supports further collaborative efforts between space weather 
researchers and electric utilities through the NERC GMD Task 
Force''), at 10 (``NERC agrees that additional [geomagnetic latitude 
scaling] research is necessary, and supports the significant 
research that is occurring throughout the space weather community to 
develop and validate models and simulation techniques''), at 13 
(``Working with EPRI, researchers at USGS, and industry, NERC will 
work to improve the earth conductivity models that are a vital 
component to understanding the risks of GMD events in each 
geographic region''), and at 23 (``efforts are already underway to 
expand GMD monitoring capabilities . . . [and] [t]hrough these 
efforts, NERC and industry should effectively address the concerns 
noted by the Commission in the NOPR, including ensuring a more 
complete set of data for operational and planning needs and 
supporting analytical validation and situational awareness'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

D. Monitoring Data

NERC Petition
    82. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R2 requires 
responsible entities to ``maintain System models and GIC System models 
of the responsible entity's planning area for performing the study or 
studies needed to complete GMD Vulnerability Assessment(s).'' NERC 
states that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 contains ``requirements to 
develop the models, studies, and assessments necessary to build a 
picture of overall GMD vulnerability and identify where mitigation 
measures may be necessary.'' \112\ NERC explains that mitigating 
strategies ``may include installation of hardware (e.g., GIC blocking 
or monitoring devices), equipment upgrades, training, or enhanced 
Operating Procedures.'' \113\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \112\ NERC Petition at 13.
    \113\ Id. at 32.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOPR
    83. The NOPR proposed to direct NERC to revise Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 to require the installation of monitoring equipment (i.e., 
GIC monitors and magnetometers) to the extent there are any gaps in 
existing GIC monitoring and magnetometer networks. Alternatively, the 
NOPR sought comment on whether NERC should be responsible for 
installation of any additional, necessary magnetometers while affected 
entities would be responsible for installation of additional, necessary 
GIC monitors. The NOPR also proposed that, as part of NERC's work plan, 
NERC identify the number and location of current GIC monitors and 
magnetometers in the United States to assess whether there are any 
gaps. The NOPR sought comment on whether the Commission should adopt a 
policy specifically allowing recovery of costs associated with or 
incurred to comply with Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, including for 
the purchase and installation of monitoring devices.
Comments
    84. NERC does not support the NOPR proposal regarding the 
installation of GIC monitoring devices and magnetometers. NERC contends 
that the proposed requirement is not necessary because Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 ``supports effective GMD monitoring programs, and 
additional efforts are planned or underway to ensure adequate data for 
reliability purposes.'' \114\ NERC also maintains that the proposed 
directive ``poses implementation challenges . . . [because] GMD 
monitoring capabilities and technical information have not yet reached 
a level of maturity to support application in a Reliability Standard, 
and not all applicable entities have developed the comprehensive

[[Page 67132]]

understanding of system vulnerabilities that would be needed to deploy 
GMD monitoring devices for the greatest reliability benefit.'' \115\ 
NERC also notes that a requirement mandating the installation of 
monitoring devices for situational awareness purposes would be outside 
the scope of a planning Reliability Standard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \114\ NERC Comments at 21. NERC cites as examples the 40 GIC 
monitoring nodes operated by EPRI's SUNBURST network; the use of GIC 
monitoring devices by some registered entities (e.g., PJM); and the 
magnetometer networks operated by USGS and EPRI. Id. at 23-25.
    \115\ Id.
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    85. The Trade Associations, CEA, ITC, Hydro One and Tri-State, 
while agreeing that more data are useful to analytical validation and 
situational awareness, do not support the NOPR proposal. CEA does not 
support the proposal because Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 is a 
planning standard; a one-size-fits-all monitoring approach will not 
work; the responsibility for monitoring, which in Canada is done by the 
Canadian government, should not fall to industry or NERC; and the 
proposal is too costly. Likewise, ITC contends that it would not be 
prudent or cost effective for entities to have to install monitoring 
equipment. Hydro One does not support a Reliability Standard that 
prescribes the number and location of monitoring devices that must be 
installed. The Trade Associations and ITC, instead, support directing 
NERC to develop a plan to address this issue. The Trade Associations 
state that such a plan should involve a partnership between government 
and industry. Tri-State maintains that NERC, working with USGS and 
NOAA, should be responsible for determining the need for and 
installation of any needed magnetometers. If the Commission requires 
applicable entities to install monitoring devices, the Trade 
Associations, Tri-State and Exelon agree that there should be cost 
recovery.
    86. BPA supports the NOPR proposal for increased monitoring because 
BPA believes it will improve situational awareness. As a model, BPA 
states that the ``Canadian government in collaboration with Canadian 
transmission owners'' have developed a ``technique that shows real 
promise of increasing visibility of GIC flows and localized impacts for 
a regional transmission grid.'' \116\ AEP encourages the Commission to 
expand the ``number and scope of the permanent geomagnetic 
observatories and install permanent geoelectric observatories in the 
United States.'' \117\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \116\ BPA Comments at 4.
    \117\ AEP March 29, 2016 Supplemental Comments at 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    87. Resilient Societies supports requiring the installation of GIC 
monitoring devices and magnetometers, noting that GIC monitors are 
commercially available and cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000 each. 
Emprimus supports developing criteria that inform the need for and 
location of monitoring devices.
Commission Determination
    88. We conclude that additional collection and disclosure of GIC 
monitoring and magnetometer data is necessary to improve our collective 
understanding of the threats posed by GMD events. The Commission 
therefore adopts the NOPR proposal in relevant part and directs NERC to 
develop revisions to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to require 
responsible entities to collect GIC monitoring and magnetometer data as 
necessary to enable model validation and situational awareness, 
including from any devices that must be added to meet this need. The 
NERC standard drafting team should address the criteria for collecting 
GIC monitoring and magnetometer data discussed below and provide 
registered entities with sufficient guidance in terms of defining the 
data that must be collected, and NERC should propose in the GMD 
research work plan how it will determine and report on the degree to 
which industry is following that guidance.
    89. In addition, the Commission directs NERC, pursuant to Section 
1600 of the NERC Rules of Procedure, to collect GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data from registered entities for the period beginning May 
2013, including both data existing as of the date of this order and new 
data going forward, and to make that information available.\118\ We 
also provide guidance that, as a general matter, the Commission does 
not believe that GIC monitoring and magnetometer data should be treated 
as Confidential Information pursuant to the NERC Rules of Procedure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \118\ The Commission's directives to collect and make available 
GIC monitoring and magnetometer data do not apply to non-U.S. 
responsible entities or Alaska and Hawaii.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Collection of GIC and Magnetometer Data
    90. In developing a requirement regarding the collection of 
magnetometer data, NERC should consider the following criteria 
discussed at the March 1, 2016 Technical Conference: (1) The data is 
sampled at a cadence of at least 10-seconds or faster; (2) the data 
comes from magnetometers that are physically close to GIC monitors; (3) 
the data comes from magnetometers that are not near sources of magnetic 
interference (e.g., roads and local distribution networks); and (4) 
data is collected from magnetometers spread across wide latitudes and 
longitudes and from diverse physiographic regions.\119\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \119\ Slide Presentation of Luis Marti (Third Panel), March 1, 
2016 Technical Conference at 3, 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    91. Each responsible entity that is a transmission owner should be 
required to collect necessary GIC monitoring data. However, a 
transmission owner should be able to apply for an exemption from the 
GIC monitoring data collection requirement if it demonstrates that no 
or little value would be added to planning and operations. In 
developing a requirement regarding the collection of GIC monitoring 
data, NERC should consider the following criteria discussed at the 
March 1, 2016 Technical Conference: (1) The GIC data is from areas 
found to have high GIC based on system studies; (2) the GIC data comes 
from sensitive installations and key parts of the transmission grid; 
and (3) the data comes from GIC monitors that are not situated near 
transportation systems using direct current (e.g., subways or light 
rail).\120\ GIC monitoring and magnetometer locations should also be 
revisited after GIC system models are run with improved ground 
conductivity models. NERC may also propose to incorporate the GIC 
monitoring and magnetometer data collection requirements in a different 
Reliability Standard (e.g., real-time reliability monitoring and 
analysis capabilities as part of the TOP Reliability Standards).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \120\ Id. at 8.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    92. Our determination differs from the NOPR proposal in that the 
NOPR proposed to require the installation of GIC monitors and 
magnetometers. The comments raised legitimate concerns about 
incorporating such a requirement in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
because of the complexities of siting and operating monitoring devices 
to achieve the maximum benefits for model validation and situational 
awareness. In particular, responsible entities may not have the 
technical capacity to properly install and operate magnetometers, given 
complicating issues such as man-made interference, calibration, and 
data interpretation. Accordingly, the Commission determines that 
requiring responsible entities to collect necessary GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data, rather than install GIC monitors and magnetometers, 
affords greater flexibility while obtaining significant benefits. For 
example, responsible entities could collaborate with universities and 
government entities that operate magnetometers to collect necessary 
magnetometer data, or

[[Page 67133]]

responsible entities could choose to install GIC monitors or 
magnetometers to comply with the data collection requirement. While the 
Commission's primary concern is the quality of the data collected, we 
do not establish a requirement for either approach or promote a 
particular device for collecting the required data. We also find that 
cost recovery for prudent costs associated with or incurred to comply 
with Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 and future revisions to the 
Reliability Standard, including for the purchase and installation of 
monitoring devices, will be available to registered entities.\121\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \121\ NOPR, 151 FERC ] 61,134 at P 49 n.60.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Data Availability
    93. We also direct NERC, pursuant to Sections 1500 and 1600 of the 
NERC Rules of Procedure, to collect and make GIC monitoring and 
magnetometer data available.\122\ We determine that the dissemination 
of GIC monitoring and magnetometer data will facilitate a greater 
understanding of GMD events that, over time, will improve Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1. The record in this proceeding supports the 
conclusion that access to GIC monitoring and magnetometer data will 
help facilitate GMD research, for example, by helping to validate GMD 
models.\123\ To facilitate the prompt dissemination of GIC monitoring 
and magnetometer data, we address whether GIC monitoring or 
magnetometer data should qualify as Confidential Information under the 
NERC Rules of Procedure.\124\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \122\ If GIC monitoring and magnetometer data is already 
publicly available (e.g., from a government entity or university), 
NERC need not duplicate those efforts.
    \123\ See, e.g., March 1, 2016 Technical Conference Tr. 58:22-
59:13 (Love); 128:5-129:2 (Overbye); ATC Comments at 6-7 (``as more 
measuring devices (including magnetometers and GIC monitors) 
continue to propagate, the body of field data on magnetic fields and 
the resultant GICs will continue to increase the understanding of 
this phenomena and result in better models that more closely match 
real world conditions . . . [a]bsent this field data, it is 
difficult to build accurate models that can be used to plan and 
operate the transmission system'').
    \124\ Providers of GIC and magnetometer data may request that 
NERC treat their GIC monitoring and magnetometer data as 
``Confidential Information,'' as that term is defined in Section 
1500 of the NERC Rules of Procedure. Under the NERC Rules of 
Procedure, disclosure of Confidential Information by NERC to a 
requester requires a formal request, notice and opportunity for 
comment, and an executed non-disclosure agreement for requesters not 
seeking public disclosure of the information. NERC Rules of 
Procedure, Section 1503 (Requests for Information) (effective Nov. 
4, 2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    94. Based on the record in this proceeding, we believe that GIC and 
magnetometer data typically should not be designated as Confidential 
Information under the NERC Rules of Procedure. We are not persuaded 
that the dissemination of GIC monitoring or magnetometer data poses a 
security risk or that the data otherwise qualify as Confidential 
Information. CEA and Hydro One have objected, without elaboration, to 
making data available without the use of non-disclosure 
agreements.\125\ At the March 1, 2016 Technical Conference, panelists 
were questioned on the topic yet could not identify a security-based or 
other credible reason for not making such information available to 
requesters. In comments submitted after the March 1, 2016 Technical 
Conference, the Trade Associations explained that ``GIC measurements, 
while not as sensitive as transmission planning studies, should also be 
protected . . . [because a] potentially malicious actor could 
conceivably combine GIC information with information from other sources 
to deduce the configuration and operating conditions of the grid or 
some portion of it.'' \126\ The Trade Associations' comments, however, 
do not substantiate the assertion that the release of GIC monitoring 
(or magnetometer data) alone poses any risk to the Bulk-Power System. 
The Trade Associations' comment is also vague by not identifying what 
``information from other sources'' could be combined with GIC 
monitoring ``to deduce the configuration and operating conditions of 
the grid or some portion of it.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \125\ CEA Comments at 15; Hydro One Comments at 2.
    \126\ Trade Associations March 7, 2016 Supplemental Comments at 
5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    95. In conclusion, given both the lack of substantiated concerns 
regarding the disclosure of GIC and magnetometer data, and the 
compelling demonstration that access to these data will support ongoing 
research and analysis of GMD threats, the Commission expects NERC to 
make GIC and magnetometer data available. Notwithstanding our findings 
here, to the extent any entity seeks confidential treatment of the data 
it provides to NERC, the burden rests on that entity to justify the 
confidential treatment.\127\ Exceptions are possible if the providing 
entity obtains from NERC, at the time it submits data to NERC, a 
determination that GIC or magnetometer data qualify as Confidential 
Information.\128\ Entities denied access to GIC and magnetometer data 
by NERC or providers denied Confidential Information treatment of GIC 
and magnetometer data may appeal NERC's decision to the Commission.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \127\ See NERC Rules of Procedure, Section 1502.1. To address 
any substantiated concerns regarding the need for confidentiality of 
an entity's GIC or magnetometer data, NERC could develop a policy 
for disseminating such data only after an appropriate time interval 
(e.g., six months).
    \128\ We understand that NERC typically does not determine 
whether information submitted to it under a claim of confidentiality 
is Confidential Information when receiving such information. See 
North American Electric Reliability Corp., 119 FERC ] 61,060, at PP 
195-196 (2007). We expect that, when a submitter seeks a 
determination by NERC of a claim that GIC or magnetometer data 
qualify as Confidential Information, NERC will decide promptly.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

E. Corrective Action Plan Deadlines

NERC Petition
    96. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R7 provides that:

    Each responsible entity, as determined in Requirement R1, that 
concludes, through the GMD Vulnerability Assessment conducted in 
Requirement R4, that their System does not meet the performance 
requirements of Table 1 shall develop a Corrective Action Plan 
addressing how the performance requirements will be met . . . .

NERC explains that the NERC Glossary defines corrective action plan to 
mean, ``A list of actions and an associated timetable for 
implementation to remedy a specific problem.'' \129\ Requirement R7.3 
states that the corrective action plan shall be provided within ``90 
calendar days of completion to the responsible entity's Reliability 
Coordinator, adjacent Planning Coordinator(s), adjacent Transmission 
Planner(s), functional entities referenced in the Corrective Action 
Plan, and any functional entity that submits a written request and has 
a reliability-related need.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \129\ NERC Petition at 31.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOPR
    97. The NOPR proposed to direct NERC to modify Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 to require corrective action plans to be developed within one 
year of the completion of the GMD Vulnerability Assessment. The NOPR 
also proposed to direct NERC to modify Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
to require a deadline for non-equipment mitigation measures that is two 
years following development of the corrective action plan and a 
deadline for mitigation measures involving equipment installation that 
is four years following development of the corrective action plan. 
Recognizing that there is little experience with installing equipment 
for GMD mitigation, the NOPR stated that the Commission is open to 
proposals that may differ from its proposal, particularly from any 
entities with experience in this area. The NOPR also sought comment on 
appropriate alternative deadlines and whether there should be a 
mechanism that would allow NERC to consider, on

[[Page 67134]]

a case-by-case basis, requests for extensions of required deadlines.
Comments
    98. NERC states that it does not oppose a one-year deadline for 
completing the development of corrective action plans.\130\ However, 
NERC contends that imposing deadlines on the completion of mitigation 
actions would be problematic because of the uncertainties regarding the 
amount of time needed to install necessary equipment. NERC maintains 
that deadlines that are too short may cause entities to take mitigation 
steps that, while quicker, would not be as effective as mitigations 
that take more time to complete. NERC supports allowing extensions if 
the Commission adopts the NOPR proposal.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \130\ NERC contends that a deadline is unnecessary because 
``NERC expects that applicable entities would determine necessary 
corrective actions as part of their GMD Vulnerability Assessments 
for the initial assessment [due 60 months after a final rule in this 
proceeding goes into effect] as well as subsequent assessments [due 
every 60 months thereafter].'' NERC Comments at 28.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    99. AEP states that, even if possible, a one-year deadline for 
developing corrective action plans is too aggressive and would 
encourage narrow thinking (i.e., registered entities would address GMD 
mitigation rather than pursue system improvements generally that would 
also address GMD mitigation). AEP, instead, proposes a two-year 
deadline. AEP does not support a Commission-imposed deadline for 
completing mitigation actions, although it supports requiring a time-
table in the corrective action plan. AEP notes that the Commission did 
not impose a specific deadline for completion of corrective actions in 
Reliability Standard TPL-001-4 (Transmission System Planning 
Performance). CEA does not support a deadline for the development of 
corrective action plans because it is already part of the GMD 
Vulnerability Assessment process. Like AEP, CEA does not support 
specific deadlines for the completion of mitigation actions and instead 
supports including time-tables in the corrective action plan. CEA also 
contends that an extension process would be impracticable.
    100. Trade Associations, BPA and Tri-State support the imposition 
of corrective action plan deadlines as long as entities can request 
extensions. Gaunt supports the corrective action plan deadlines 
proposed in the NOPR. Emprimus supports the imposition of deadlines but 
contends that non-equipment mitigation actions should be completed in 6 
months and that there should be a rolling four-year period for 
equipment mitigation (i.e., after each year, 25 percent of the total 
mitigation actions should be completed).
Commission Determination
    101. The Commission directs NERC to modify Reliability Standard 
TPL-007-1 to include a deadline of one year from the completion of the 
GMD Vulnerability Assessments to complete the development of corrective 
action plans. NERC's statement that it ``expects'' corrective action 
plans to be completed at the same time as GMD Vulnerability Assessments 
concedes the point made in the NOPR that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
currently lacks a clear deadline for the development of corrective 
action plans.
    102. The Commission also directs NERC to modify Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 to include a two-year deadline after the development 
of the corrective action plan to complete the implementation of non-
hardware mitigation and four-year deadline to complete hardware 
mitigation. The comments provide contrasting views on the practicality 
of imposing mitigation deadlines, with NERC and some industry 
commenters arguing that such deadlines are not warranted while the 
Trade Associations and other industry commenters support their 
imposition. Most of these comments, however, support an extension 
process if the Commission determines that deadlines are necessary. The 
Commission agrees that NERC should consider extensions of time on a 
case-by-case basis. The Commission directs NERC to submit these 
revisions within 18 months of the effective date of this Final Rule.
    103. Following adoption of the mitigation deadlines required in 
this final rule, Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 will establish a 
recurring five-year schedule for the identification and mitigation of 
potential GMD risks on the grid, as follows: (1) The development of 
corrective action plans must be completed within one year of a GMD 
Vulnerability Assessment; (2) non-hardware mitigation must be completed 
within two years following development of corrective action plans; and 
(3) hardware mitigation must be completed within four years following 
development of corrective action plans.
    104. As discussed elsewhere in this final rule, the Commission 
recognizes and expects that our collective understanding of the science 
regarding GMD threats will improve over time as additional research and 
analysis is conducted. We believe that the recurring five-year cycle 
will provide, on a going-forward basis, the opportunity to update 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 to reflect new or improved scientific 
understanding of GMD events.

F. Minimization of Load Loss and Curtailment

NERC Petition
    105. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R4 states that 
each responsible entity ``shall complete a GMD Vulnerability Assessment 
of the Near-Term Transmission Planning Horizon once every 60 calendar 
months.'' Requirement R4.2 further states that the ``study or studies 
shall be conducted based on the benchmark GMD event described in 
Attachment 1 to determine whether the System meets the performance 
requirements in Table 1.''
    106. NERC maintains that Table 1 sets forth requirements for system 
steady state performance. NERC explains that Requirement R4 and Table 1 
``address assessments of the effects of GICs on other Bulk[hyphen]Power 
System equipment, system operations, and system stability, including 
the loss of devices due to GIC impacts.'' \131\ Table 1 provides, in 
relevant part, that load loss and/or curtailment are permissible 
elements of the steady state:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \131\ NERC Petition at 39.

    Load loss as a result of manual or automatic Load shedding (e.g. 
UVLS) and/or curtailment of Firm Transmission Service may be used to 
meet BES performance requirements during studied GMD conditions. The 
likelihood and magnitude of Load loss or curtailment of Firm 
Transmission Service should be minimized.
NOPR
    107. The NOPR sought comment on the provision in Table 1 that 
``Load loss or curtailment of Firm Transmission Service should be 
minimized.'' The NOPR stated that because the term ``minimized'' does 
not represent an objective value, the provision is potentially subject 
to interpretation and assertions that the term is vague and may not be 
enforceable. The NOPR also explained that the modifier ``should'' might 
indicate that minimization of load loss or curtailment is only an 
expectation or a guideline rather than a requirement. The NOPR sought 
comment on how the provision in Table 1 regarding load loss and 
curtailment will be enforced, including: (1) Whether, by using the term 
``should,'' Table 1 requires minimization of load loss or curtailment; 
or both and (2) what constitutes ``minimization'' and how it will be 
assessed.

[[Page 67135]]

Comments
    108. NERC states the language in Table 1 is modeled on Reliability 
Standard TPL-001-4, which provides in part that ``an objective of the 
planning process should be to minimize the likelihood and magnitude of 
interruption of Firm transmission Service following Contingency 
events.'' NERC explains that Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 ``does not 
include additional load loss performance criteria used in normal 
contingency planning because such criteria may not be applicable to GMD 
Vulnerability Assessment of the impact from a 1-in-100 year GMD 
event.'' \132\ However, NERC points out that the enforcement of 
Requirement R4 ``would include an evaluation of whether the system 
meets the Steady State performance requirements of Table 1 which are 
aimed at protecting against instability, controlled separation, and 
Cascading.'' \133\ NERC further states that ``minimized'' in the 
context of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 means that ``planned Load 
loss or curtailments are not to exceed amounts necessary to prevent 
voltage collapse.'' \134\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \132\ NERC Comments at 29.
    \133\ Id.
    \134\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    109. The Trade Associations agree with the NOPR that the lack of 
objective criteria could create compliance and enforcement challenges 
and could limit an operator's actions in real-time. The Trade 
Associations state that the Commission ``should consider whether such 
language in mandatory requirements invites the unintended consequences 
of raising reliability risks, especially during real-time emergency 
conditions . . . [but] [i]n the interim, the Trade Associations 
envision that NERC will consider further discussions with stakeholders 
on the issue prior to TPL-007 implementation.'' \135\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \135\ Trade Associations Comments at 28.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Commission Determination
    110. The Commission accepts the explanation in NERC's comments of 
what is meant by the term ``minimized'' in Table 1.

G. Violation Risk Factors and Violation Severity Levels

    111. Each requirement of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 includes 
one violation risk factor and has an associated set of at least one 
violation severity level. NERC states that the ranges of penalties for 
violations will be based on the sanctions table and supporting penalty 
determination process described in the Commission approved NERC 
Sanction Guidelines. The NOPR proposed to approve the violation risk 
factors and violation severity levels submitted by NERC, for the 
requirements in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, consistent with the 
Commission's established guidelines.\136\ The Commission did not 
receive any comments regarding this aspect of the NOPR. Accordingly, 
the Commission approves the violation risk factors and violation 
severity levels for the requirements in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \136\ North American Electric Reliability Corp., 135 FERC ] 
61,166 (2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

H. Implementation Plan and Effective Dates

NERC Petition
    112. NERC proposes a phased, five-year implementation period.\137\ 
NERC maintains that the proposed implementation period is necessary: 
(1) To allow time for entities to develop the required models; (2) for 
proper sequencing of assessments because thermal impact assessments are 
dependent on GIC flow calculations that are determined by the 
responsible planning entity; and (3) to give time for development of 
viable corrective action plans, which may require applicable entities 
to ``develop, perform, and/or validate new or modified studies, 
assessments, procedures . . . [and because] [s]ome mitigation measures 
may have significant budget, siting, or construction planning 
requirements.'' \138\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \137\ NERC Petition, Ex. B (Implementation Plan for TPL-007-1).
    \138\ Id. at 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    113. The proposed implementation plan states that Requirement R1 
shall become effective on the first day of the first calendar quarter 
that is six months after Commission approval. For Requirement R2, NERC 
proposes that the requirement shall become effective on the first day 
of the first calendar quarter that is 18 months after Commission 
approval. NERC proposes that Requirement R5 shall become effective on 
the first day of the first calendar quarter that is 24 months after 
Commission approval. NERC proposes that Requirement R6 shall become 
effective on the first day of the first calendar quarter that is 48 
months after Commission approval. And for Requirement R3, Requirement 
R4, and Requirement R7, NERC proposes that the requirements shall 
become effective on the first day of the first calendar quarter that is 
60 months after Commission approval.
NOPR
    114. The NOPR proposed to approve the implementation plan and 
effective dates submitted by NERC. However, given the serial nature of 
the requirements in Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, the Commission 
expressed concern about the duration of the timeline associated with 
any mitigation stemming from a corrective action plan and sought 
comment from NERC and other interested entities as to whether the 
length of the implementation plan, particularly with respect to 
Requirements R4, R5, R6, and R7, could be reasonably shortened.
Comments
    115. NERC does not support shortening the implementation period. 
NERC maintains that the proposed implementation period is ``appropriate 
and commensurate with the requirements of the proposed standard'' and 
is based on ``industry . . . projections on the time required for 
obtaining validated tools, models and data necessary for conducting GMD 
Vulnerability Assessments through the standard development process.'' 
\139\ NERC notes that the standard drafting team initially proposed a 
four-year implementation plan, but received substantial comments 
expressing concern with only having four years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \139\ NERC Comments at 30.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    116. The Trade Associations, BPA, CEA, Joint ISOs/RTOs and Tri-
State support the proposed implementation plan for largely the same 
reasons as NERC.
    117. Gaunt proposes a shorter implementation period wherein the 
initial GMD Vulnerability Assessment would be performed 48 months 
following the effective date of a final rule in this proceeding, as 
opposed to the proposed implementation plan's 60 months. Subsequent GMD 
Vulnerability Assessments would be performed every 48 months 
thereafter. Briggs states that a ``3 or 4 year timeline would likely 
provide industry with enough time to implement corrective measures and 
should be considered.'' \140\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \140\ Briggs Comments at 7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Commission Determination
    118. The Commission approves the implementation plan submitted by 
NERC. When registered entities begin complying with Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1, it will likely be the first time that many 
registered entities will have planned for a GMD event, beyond 
developing the GMD operational procedures required by Reliability 
Standard EOP-010-1. Registered

[[Page 67136]]

entities will gain the capacity to conduct GMD Vulnerability 
Assessments over the course of the five-year implementation plan by 
complying with, at phased intervals, the foundational requirements in 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 (i.e., establishing responsibilities for 
planning and developing models and performance criteria). In addition, 
as discussed above, NERC's implementation plan affords sufficient time 
for NERC to submit and for the Commission to consider the directed 
revisions to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 before the completion of 
the first GMD Vulnerability Assessment. As such, the five-year 
implementation plan will allow for the incorporation of the revised 
Reliability Standard in the first round of GMD Vulnerability 
Assessments.

I. Other Issues

    119. Several commenters indicated that the Commission should 
address the threats posed by EMPs or otherwise raised the issue of 
EMPs.\141\ For example, Briggs states that the Commission should 
``initiate a process to improve the resilience of the U.S. electric 
grid to the threat of high altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) 
attacks, which can be more severe than solar superstorms.'' \142\ 
However, as the Commission stated in Order No. 779 in directing the 
development of GMD Reliability Standards and in Order No. 797 in 
approving the First Stage GMD Reliability Standards, EMPs are not 
within the scope of the GMD rulemaking proceedings.\143\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \141\ See Briggs Comments at 7; EIS Comments at 3; JINSA 
Comments at 2.
    \142\ Briggs Comments at 7.
    \143\ Order No. 797, 147 FERC ] 61,209 at P 42 (citing Order No. 
779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at P 14 n.20).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    120. Holdeman contends that the Commission ``should modify the 
current preemption of States preventing them from having more stringent 
reliability standards for Commission regulated entities than Commission 
standards.'' \144\ As the Commission indicated in response to similar 
comments in Order No. 797, section 215(i)(3) of the FPA provides in 
relevant part that section 215 does not ``preempt any authority of any 
State to take action to ensure the safety, adequacy, and reliability of 
electric service within that State, as long as such action is not 
inconsistent with any reliability standard.'' \145\ Moreover, 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 does not preclude users, owners, and 
operators of the Bulk-Power System from taking additional steps that 
are designed to mitigate the effects of GMD events, provided those 
additional steps are not inconsistent with the Commission-approved 
Reliability Standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \144\ Holdeman Comments at 2.
    \145\ Order No. 797, 147 FERC ] 61,209 at P 44 (citing 16 U.S.C. 
824o(i)(3)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    121. Certain commenters opposed to Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 
contend that its approval could absolve industry of any legal liability 
should a GMD event cause a disruption to the Bulk-Power System. For 
example, Resilient Societies ``ask[s] the Commission to clarify its 
expectation that the FERC jurisdictional entities will be held to 
account, and be subject to liability in the event of gross negligence 
or willful misconduct in planning for and mitigating solar geomagnetic 
storms.'' \146\ Resilient Societies also contends that the Commission 
does not have the legal authority ``to grant immunity from liability by 
setting reliability standards.'' \147\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \146\ Resilient Societies Comments at 62; see also CSP Comments 
at 1 (``It would be far better for FERC to remand Standard TPL-007-1 
in its entirety than to approve a reliability standard that would 
grant liability protection to utilities while blocking the electric 
grid protection for the public that a 21st century society 
requires.'').
    \147\ Resilient Societies Comments at 62.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    122. The Commission has never stated in the GMD Reliability 
Standard rulemakings that compliance with Commission-approved 
Reliability Standards absolves registered entities from legal liability 
generally, to the extent legal liability exists, should a disruption 
occur on the Bulk-Power System due to a GMD event. Resilient Societies' 
comment appears to misconstrue language in Order No. 779 in which the 
Commission stated, when directing the development of the Second Stage 
GMD Reliability Standards, that the ``Second Stage GMD Reliability 
Standard should not impose `strict liability' on responsible entities 
for failure to ensure the reliability operation of the Bulk-Power 
System in the face of a GMD event of unforeseen severity.'' \148\ The 
Commission's statement merely recognized that the Second Stage GMD 
Reliability Standard should require registered entities to plan against 
a defined benchmark GMD event, for the purpose of complying with the 
proposed Reliability Standard, rather than any GMD event generally 
(i.e., a GMD event that exceeded the severity of the benchmark GMD 
event). The Commission did not suggest, nor could it suggest, that 
compliance with a Reliability Standard would absolve registered 
entities from general legal liability, if any, arising from a 
disruption to the Bulk-Power System. The only liability the Commission 
was referring to in Order No. 779 was the potential for penalties or 
remediation under section 215 of the FPA for failure to comply with a 
Commission-approved Reliability Standard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \148\ Order No. 779, 143 FERC ] 61,147 at P 84.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    123. Kappenman, Resilient Societies and Bardin filed comments that 
addressed the NERC ``Level 2'' Appeal Panel decision.\149\ As a 
threshold issue, we agree with the Appeal Panel that the issues raised 
by the appellants in that proceeding are not procedural; instead they 
address the substantive provisions of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. 
Section 8 (Process for Appealing an Action or Inaction) of the NERC 
Standards Process Manual states:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \149\ NERC August 17, 2015 Filing at Appendix 1 (Decision of 
Level 2 Appeal Panel SPM Section 8 Appeal the Foundation For 
Resilient Societies, Inc. TPL-007-1).

Any entity that has directly and materially affected interests and 
that has been or will be adversely affected by any procedural action 
or inaction related to the development, approval, revision, 
reaffirmation, retirement or withdrawal of a Reliability Standard, 
definition, Variance, associated implementation plan, or 
Interpretation shall have the right to appeal. This appeals process 
applies only to the NERC Reliability Standards processes as defined 
in this manual, not to the technical content of the Reliability 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Standards action.

    The appellants, who have the burden of proof under the NERC Rules 
of Procedure, have not shown that NERC or the standard drafting team 
failed to comply with any procedural requirements set forth in the NERC 
Rules of Procedure.\150\ Instead, it would appear that the appeal 
constitutes a collateral attack on the substantive provisions of 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1. As the appellants' substantive concerns 
with Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 have been addressed in this Final 
Rule, issues surrounding the NERC ``Level 2'' Appeal Panel decision 
are, in any case, moot.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \150\ NERC Rules of Procedure, Appendix 3A (Standard Processes 
Manual), Section 8 (Process for Appealing an Action or Inaction) 
(effective June 26, 2013).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Information Collection Statement

    124. The collection of information contained in this final rule is 
subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
regulations under section 3507(d) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (PRA).\151\ OMB's regulations require approval of certain 
informational collection requirements imposed by agency rules.\152\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \151\ 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).
    \152\ 5 CFR 1320.11.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 67137]]

    125. Upon approval of a collection(s) of information, OMB will 
assign an OMB control number and an expiration date. Respondents 
subject to the filing requirements of a rule will not be penalized for 
failing to respond to these collections of information unless the 
collections of information display a valid OMB control number.
    126. The Commission solicited comments on the need for this 
information, whether the information will have practical utility, the 
accuracy of the burden estimates, ways to enhance the quality, utility, 
and clarity of the information to be collected or retained, and any 
suggested methods for minimizing respondents' burden, including the use 
of automated information techniques. The Commission asked that any 
revised burden or cost estimates submitted by commenters be supported 
by sufficient detail to understand how the estimates are generated. The 
Commission received comments on specific requirements in Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1, which we address in this Final Rule. However, the 
Commission did not receive any comments on our reporting burden 
estimates or on the need for and the purpose of the information 
collection requirements.\153\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \153\ While noting the uncertainties surrounding the potential 
costs associated with implementation of Reliability Standard TPL-
007-1 and the potential costs that could arise from a revised 
Reliability Standard, the Trade Associations stated that they ``have 
no specific comments regarding the OMB cost estimate in the NOPR.'' 
Trade Associations Comments at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Public Reporting Burden: The Commission approves Reliability 
Standard TPL-007-1 and the associated implementation plan, violation 
severity levels, and violation risk factors, as discussed above. 
Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 will impose new requirements for 
transmission planners, planning coordinators, transmission owners, and 
generator owners. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1, Requirement R1 
requires planning coordinators, in conjunction with the applicable 
transmission planner, to identify the responsibilities of the planning 
coordinator and transmission planner in the planning coordinator's 
planning area for maintaining models and performing the study or 
studies needed to complete GMD Vulnerability Assessments. Requirements 
R2, R3, R4, R5, and R7 refer to the ``responsible entity, as determined 
by Requirement R1,'' when identifying which applicable planning 
coordinators or transmission planners are responsible for maintaining 
models and performing the necessary study or studies. Requirement R2 
requires that the responsible entities maintain models for performing 
the studies needed to complete GMD Vulnerability Assessments, as 
required in Requirement R4. Requirement R3 requires responsible 
entities to have criteria for acceptable system steady state voltage 
performance during a benchmark GMD event. Requirement R4 requires 
responsible entities to complete a GMD Vulnerability Assessment of the 
near-term transmission planning horizon once every 60 calendar months. 
Requirement R5 requires responsible entities to provide GIC flow 
information to transmission owners and generator owners that own an 
applicable bulk electric system power transformer in the planning area. 
This information is necessary for applicable transmission owners and 
generator owners to conduct the thermal impact assessments required by 
proposed Requirement R6. Requirement R6 requires applicable 
transmission owners and generator owners to conduct thermal impact 
assessments where the maximum effective GIC value provided in proposed 
Requirement R5, Part 5.1 is 75 A/phase or greater. Requirement R7 
requires responsible entities to develop a corrective action plan when 
its GMD Vulnerability Assessment indicates that its system does not 
meet the performance requirements of Table 1--Steady State Planning 
Events. The corrective action plan must address how the performance 
requirements will be met, must list the specific deficiencies and 
associated actions that are necessary to achieve performance, and must 
set forth a timetable for completion. The Commission estimates the 
annual reporting burden and cost as follows:

                                           FERC-725N, as Modified by the Final Rule in Docket No. RM15-11-000
                  [TPL-007-1 Reliability Standard for Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events] \154\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 Annual number                     Average burden    Total annual burden
                                      Number of respondents      of responses    Total number     hours & cost per      hours & total        Cost per
                                                                per respondent   of responses      response \155\        annual cost      respondent ($)
                                  (1).........................             (2)     (1) * (2) =  (4)................  (3) * (4) = (5)....       (5) / (1)
                                                                                           (3)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(One-time) Requirement 1........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 5 hrs.          1,089 hrs. (605             $481.55
                                                                                                 ($331.75); RK 4      Eng., 484 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($149.80).      $58,267.55
                                                                                                                      ($40,141.75 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $18,125.80 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 1........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 3 hrs.          605 hrs. (363 Eng.,          273.95
                                                                                                 ($199.05); RK 2      242 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($74.90).       $33,147.95
                                                                                                                      ($24,085.05 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $9,062.90 RK).
(One-time) Requirement 2........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 22 hrs.         4840 hrs. (2,662           2,133.80
                                                                                                 ($1,459.70); RK 18   Eng., 2,178 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($674.10).      $258,189.80
                                                                                                                      ($176,623.70 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $81,566.10 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 2........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 5 hrs.          968 hrs. (605 Eng.,          444.10
                                                                                                 ($331.75); RK 3      363 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($112.35).      $53,736.10
                                                                                                                      ($40,141.75 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $13,594.35 RK).

[[Page 67138]]

 
(One-time) Requirement 3........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 5 hrs.          968 hrs. (605 Eng.,          444.10
                                                                                                 ($331.75); RK 3      363 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($112.35).      $53,736.10
                                                                                                                      ($40,141.75 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $13,594.35 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 3........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 1 hrs.          242 hrs. (121 Eng.,          103.80
                                                                                                 ($66.35);RK 1 hrs.   121 RK);
                                                                                                 ($37.45).            $12,559.80
                                                                                                                      ($8,028.35 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $4,531.45 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 4........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 27 hrs.         5,808 hrs. (3,267          2,277.85
                                                                                                 ($1,791.45); RK 21   Eng., 2,541 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($786.45).      $311,919.85
                                                                                                                      ($216,765.45 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $95,154.40 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 5........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 9 hrs.          1936 hrs. (1,089             859.30
                                                                                                 ($597.15); RK 7      Eng., 847 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($262.15).      $103,975.30
                                                                                                                      ($72,255.15 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $31,720.15 RK).
(One-time) Requirement 6........  881 (TO & GO)...............               1             881  Eng. 22 hrs.         35,240 hrs. (19,382        2,133.89
                                                                                                 ($1,459.70); RK 18   Eng., 15,858 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($674.19).      $1,879,957.09
                                                                                                                      ($1,285,995.70
                                                                                                                      Eng., $593,961.39
                                                                                                                      RK).
(On-going) Requirement 6........  881 (TO & GO)...............               1             881  Eng. 2 hrs.          3,524 hrs. (1,762            207.60
                                                                                                 ($132.70); RK 2      Eng., 1762 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($74.90).       $182,895.60
                                                                                                                      ($116,908.70 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $65,986.90 RK).
(On-going) Requirement 7........  121 (PC & TP)...............               1             121  Eng. 11 hrs.         2,420 hrs. (1,331          1,066.90
                                                                                                 ($729.85); RK 9      Eng., 1,089 RK);
                                                                                                 hrs. ($337.05).      $129,094.90
                                                                                                                      ($88,311.85 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      $40,783.05 RK).
                                                               --------------------------------                                          ---------------
    Total.......................  ............................  ..............            2851  ...................  57,640 \156\ hrs.    ..............
                                                                                                                      (31,792 Eng.,
                                                                                                                      25,848 RK);
                                                                                                                      $3,077,480.04
                                                                                                                      ($2,109,399.20
                                                                                                                      Eng., $968,080.84
                                                                                                                      RK).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Title: FERC-725N, Mandatory Reliability Standards: TPL Reliability 
Standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \154\ Eng.=engineer; RK =recordkeeping (record clerk); 
PC=planning coordinator; TP=transmission planner; TO=transmission 
owner; and GO=generator owner.
    \155\ The estimates for cost per response are derived using the 
following formula: Burden Hours per Response * $/hour = Cost per 
Response. The $66.35/hour figure for an engineer and the $37.45/hour 
figure for a record clerk are based on data on the average salary 
plus benefits from the Bureau of Labor Statistics obtainable at 
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics3_221000.htm and http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm.
    \156\ Of the 57,640 total burden hours, 42,137 hours are one-
time burden hours, and 15,503 hours are on-going annual burden 
hours.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Action: Approved Additional Requirements.
    OMB Control No: 1902-0264.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit and not-for-profit 
institutions.
    Frequency of Responses: One time and on-going.
    Necessity of the Information: The Commission has reviewed the 
requirements of Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 and has made a 
determination that the requirements of this Reliability Standard are 
necessary to implement section 215 of the FPA. Specifically, these 
requirements address the threat posed by GMD events to the Bulk-Power 
System and conform to the Commission's directives regarding development 
of the Second Stage GMD Reliability Standards, as set forth in Order 
No. 779.
    Internal review: The Commission has assured itself, by means of its 
internal review, that there is specific, objective support for the 
burden estimates associated with the information requirements.
    127. Interested persons may obtain information on the reporting 
requirements by contacting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 
Office of the Executive Director, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 
20426 [Attention: Ellen Brown, e-mail:

[[Page 67139]]

[email protected], phone: (202) 502-8663, fax: (202) 273-0873].
    128. Comments concerning the information collections in this final 
rule and the associated burden estimates, should be sent to the 
Commission in this docket and may also be sent to the Office of 
Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs 
[Attention: Desk Officer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission]. 
For security reasons, comments should be sent by e-mail to OMB at the 
following e-mail address: [email protected]. Please reference 
FERC-725N and OMB Control No. 1902-0264 in your submission.

IV. Environmental Analysis

    129. The Commission is required to prepare an Environmental 
Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement for any action that may 
have a significant adverse effect on the human environment.\157\ The 
Commission has categorically excluded certain actions from this 
requirement as not having a significant effect on the human 
environment. Included in the exclusion are rules that are clarifying, 
corrective, or procedural or that do not substantially change the 
effect of the regulations being amended.\158\ The actions here fall 
within this categorical exclusion in the Commission's regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \157\ Regulations Implementing the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, Order No. 486, 52 FR 47897 (Dec. 17, 1987), FERC Stats. 
& Regs. Preambles 1986-1990 ] 30,783 (1987).
    \158\ 18 CFR 380.4(a)(2)(ii).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    130. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) \159\ generally 
requires a description and analysis of final rules that will have 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Size Standards 
develops the numerical definition of a small business.\160\ The SBA 
revised its size standard for electric utilities (effective January 22, 
2014) to a standard based on the number of employees, including 
affiliates (from a standard based on megawatt hours).\161\ Under SBA's 
new size standards, planning coordinators, transmission planners, 
transmission owners, and generator owners are likely included in one of 
the following categories (with the associated size thresholds noted for 
each): \162\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \159\ 5 U.S.C. 601-12.
    \160\ 13 CFR 121.101.
    \161\ SBA Final Rule on ``Small Business Size Standards: 
Utilities,'' 78 FR 77,343 (Dec. 23, 2013).
    \162\ 13 CFR 121.201, Sector 22, Utilities.

 Hydroelectric power generation, at 500 employees
 Fossil fuel electric power generation, at 750 employees
 Nuclear electric power generation, at 750 employees
 Other electric power generation (e.g., solar, wind, 
geothermal, biomass, and other), at 250 employees
 Electric bulk power transmission and control,\163\ at 500 
employees
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \163\ This category covers transmission planners and planning 
coordinators.

    131. Based on these categories, the Commission will use a 
conservative threshold of 750 employees for all entities.\164\ Applying 
this threshold, the Commission estimates that there are 440 small 
entities that function as planning coordinators, transmission planners, 
transmission owners, and/or generator owners. However, the Commission 
estimates that only a subset of such small entities will be subject to 
the approved Reliability Standard given the additional applicability 
criterion in the approved Reliability Standard (i.e., to be subject to 
the requirements of the approved Reliability Standard, the applicable 
entity must own or must have a planning area that contains a large 
power transformer with a high side, wye-grounded winding with terminal 
voltage greater than 200 kV).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \164\ By using the highest number threshold for all types of 
entities, our estimate conservatively treats more entities as 
``small entities.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    132. Reliability Standard TPL-007-1 enhances reliability by 
establishing requirements that require applicable entities to perform 
GMD Vulnerability Assessments and to mitigate identified 
vulnerabilities. The Commission estimates that each of the small 
entities to whom the approved Reliability Standard applies will incur 
one-time compliance costs of $5,193.34 and annual ongoing costs of 
$5,233.50.
    133. The Commission does not consider the estimated cost per small 
entity to impose a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. Accordingly, the Commission certifies that the 
approved Reliability Standard will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.

VI. Document Availability

    134. In addition to publishing the full text of this document in 
the Federal Register, the Commission provides all interested persons an 
opportunity to view and/or print the contents of this document via the 
Internet through FERC's Home Page (http://www.ferc.gov) and in FERC's 
Public Reference Room during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 
p.m. Eastern time) at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 
20426.
    135. From FERC's Home Page on the Internet, this information is 
available on eLibrary. The full text of this document is available on 
eLibrary in PDF and Microsoft Word format for viewing, printing, and/or 
downloading. To access this document in eLibrary, type the docket 
number excluding the last three digits of this document in the docket 
number field.
    136. User assistance is available for eLibrary and the FERC's 
website during normal business hours from FERC Online Support at 202-
502-6652 (toll free at 1-866-208-3676) or email at 
[email protected], or the Public Reference Room at (202) 502-
8371, TTY (202) 502-8659. E-mail the Public Reference Room at 
[email protected].

VII. Effective Date and Congressional Notification

    137. These regulations are effective November 29, 2016. The 
Commission has determined, with the concurrence of the Administrator of 
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB, that this rule 
is not a ``major rule'' as defined in section 351 of the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.

    By the Commission.

    Issued: September 22, 2016.
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr.,
Deputy Secretary.

Appendix

Commenters

                            Initial Comments
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Abbreviation                          Commenter
------------------------------------------------------------------------
AEP....................................  American Electric Power Service
                                          Corporation.
APS....................................  Arizona Public Service Company.
ATC....................................  American Transmission Company.

[[Page 67140]]

 
Baker..................................  Greta Baker.
Bardin.................................  David J. Bardin.
BPA....................................  Bonneville Power
                                          Administration.
Briggs.................................  Kevin Briggs.
CEA....................................  Canadian Electricity
                                          Association.
CSP....................................  Center for Security Policy.
EIS....................................  Electric Infrastructure
                                          Security Council.
Emprimus...............................  Emprimus LLC.
Exelon.................................  Exelon Corporation.
Gaunt..................................  Charles T. Gaunt.
Holdeman...............................  Eric Holdeman.
Hydro One..............................  Hydro One Networks Inc.
ITC....................................  International Transmission
                                          Company.
Lloyd's................................  Lloyd's America, Inc.
JINSA..................................  Jewish Institute for National
                                          Security Affairs.
Joint ISOs/RTOs........................  ISO New England Inc.,
                                          Midcontinent Independent
                                          Transmission System Operator,
                                          Inc., Independent Electricity
                                          System Operator, New York
                                          Independent System Operator,
                                          Inc., and PJM Interconnection,
                                          L.L.C.
Kappenman..............................  John G. Kappenman and Curtis
                                          Birnbach.
Morris.................................  Eric S. Morris.
NERC...................................  North American Electric
                                          Reliability Corporation.
Resilient Societies....................  Foundation for Resilient
                                          Societies.
Roodman................................  David Roodman.
Trade Associations.....................  American Public Power
                                          Association, Edison Electric
                                          Institute, Electricity
                                          Consumers Resource Council,
                                          Electric Power Supply
                                          Association, Large Public
                                          Power Council, National Rural
                                          Electric Cooperative
                                          Association.
Tri-State..............................  Tri-State Generation and
                                          Transmission Association, Inc.
USGS...................................  United States Geological
                                          Survey.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                          Supplemental Comments
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
AEP....................................  American Electric Power Service
                                          Corporation.
Bardin.................................  David J. Bardin.
CSP....................................  Center for Security Policy.
Gaunt..................................  Charles T. Gaunt.
IEEE...................................  IEEE Power and Energy Society
                                          Transformers Committee.
Kappenman..............................  John G. Kappenman and Curtis
                                          Birnbach.
NERC...................................  North American Electric
                                          Reliability Corporation.
Resilient Societies....................  Foundation for Resilient
                                          Societies.
Roodman................................  David Roodman.
Trade Associations.....................  American Public Power
                                          Association, Edison Electric
                                          Institute, Electricity
                                          Consumers Resource Council,
                                          Electric Power Supply
                                          Association, Large Public
                                          Power Council, National Rural
                                          Electric Cooperative
                                          Association.
USGS...................................  United States Geological
                                          Survey.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. 2016-23441 Filed 9-29-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6717-01-P