What is NERC Reliability Standards Development Plan?

Posted On: June 17, 2018
nerc reliability standards

What is NERC?

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is based in North America and its main goal is to maintain power systems. Its main job is to work with stakeholders in order to:

  • create standards for power system operation
  • determine adequacy of resources
  • provide educational resources
  • provide training opportunities

All of these tasks are part of an accreditation program that maintains standards for power system operators and ensures each remains proficient. NERC is also responsible for eliminating events by examining the causes of disturbances in power systems.

NERC Reliability Standards Development Plan (RSDP)

NERC Reliability Standards Development Plan (RSDP) is responsible for providing updates on projects that are in progress. The Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) works according to the direction provided by the RSDP, the Board of Trustees as well as the committees involved. In other words, NERC RSDP’s main aim is to guide the setup of reliability standards.

It is used by the Standards Committee and staff to coordinate operations according to those standards and it also acts as the middle entity between NERC and appropriate agencies in the US and Canada. The RSDP standards are revised yearly to remain relevant according to changing trends and requirements. This is understandable as the main programs of the ERO (which affect more than 1600 power system owners) are based on the following standards:

Quality Assurance

This ensures that the power systems perform at optimum levels.

Reliable Performance

This standard takes risks and avoidable incidents into account to improve power system reliability.


To ensure operations are improved continuously for better power system reliability.

Risk-Based Procedures

To direct all resources, attention, and actions for reliability assurance for power systems NERC Reliability Standards are based on an ANSI approved process that:

  • Keeps it accessible to every individual who is affected (directly and indirectly) by the bulk power system in North America
  • Makes it accessible to the public
  • Balances shareholder interests
  • Allows opportunities for comments
  • Ensures that standards are developed in a timely manner.
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NERC’s standard development process is based on market interface principles and reliability. The standards are developed via a result-oriented approach that gives importance to risk management, capabilities, and performance of bulk power systems in North America. The functions that are required to ensure power systems operate well are defined by the Reliability Functional Model.

It is also the foundation on which the standards are based. The Standards Committee (SC) on the other hand focuses on standard development processes by NERC. It is also responsible for coordinating the development of standards with the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) as per business requirements. The standards are drafted by volunteers from the industry along with NERC support staff. They work together to create requirements that are result-oriented and which focus on 3 areas:

  1. Strategies that can prevent risks
  2. Capabilities
  3. Measurable performance

All in all, the philosophies working behind NERC standards include the following:

  • Ensure adequate reliability levels
  • Facilities remain safe from damage
  • Bulk electricity systems work at optimum levels
  • System integrities can be restored if lost
  • Customers have power at all times
  • Systems perform optimally after contingencies.

Besides this, NERC is also responsible for the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC). E-ISAC is responsible for protecting owners of bulk power systems in the region against threats. Besides physical threats, this also includes cyber attacks. It also works with the awareness team in Atlanta to keep an eye on physical and cybersecurity threats to the grid.

With aid from the Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP), E-ISAC also works with operators to detect patterns in incidents that can have an impact on the bulk power grid. This allows the entity to determine potential hazards and prevent repeat incidents that can compromise the power supply.

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