NERC Outlines Three Pandemic Timelines

Utilities.

On April 23, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation released a special report, “Pandemic Preparedness and Operational Assessment: Spring 2020,” to update the nation’s electric utilities on the implications of the pandemic for its industry.

“The global health crisis has elevated the electric reliability risk profile due to potential workforce disruptions, supply chain interruptions, and increased cybersecurity threats,” said the report. “The electricity industry in North America is rising to the challenge, coordinating effectively with government partners, and taking aggressive steps to confront the threat to the reliability and security of the bulk power system.”

The report went on to add, “Nearly 400 million North Americans are dependent on a reliable power supply of electricity to support their way of life and the people, systems, and processes in place to support them during this unprecedented time.”

The report advised the industry during this pandemic to prepare for operations with a smaller workforce and other difficulties. The industry must also be aware of cybersecurity threats due to remote working that could lead to attacks on these new vectors.

The report outlined three timeframes for increased reliability risk profiles.

For spring 2020:

  • No specific reliability issue identified
  • Potential workforce disruptions
  • Supply chain interruption
  • Increased cybersecurity threat and monitoring
  • Different system conditions, including lower demands and higher voltages
  • System operators under sequester
  • Noncritical staff are remote

For summer 2020:

  • Continued potential for workforce disruptions and support service disruption
  • Potential equipment and fuel supply chain disruptions
  • Deferred generation maintenance and other factors impacting unit availability
  • Generation in-service data

For the long-term:

  • Potential changes to generation and transmission in-service dates
  • Increased remote operation of non-critical staff
  • Changes to pandemic preparedness and operating plans based on lessons learned.

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