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PRC-027 and PER-006: What You Need to Know and How to Get Ready

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The Standards

     FERC recently approved Order 847 which authorized two new NERC Reliability Standards: PRC-027-1, Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults; and PER-006-1, Specific Training for Personnel. These reliability standards replace and expand upon requirements contained in PRC-001.1(ii).

     PRC-027 impacts Transmission Owners (TO), Generator Owners (GO), and Distribution Providers (DP) with protection systems installed to detect and isolate faults on BES Elements. PER-006 impacts training on the functionality of protection systems and Remedial Action Schemes for the Generation Operator (GOP) specifically, but also provides considerations for Reliability Coordinators (RC), Balancing Authorities (BA), and Transmission Operators (TOP). This paper summarizes the new reliability standards, how they impact the respective registered entities, and what you can do to respond and prepare for their implementation.

     NERC initially proposed these two reliability standards in NERC Petition RM16-22 dated September 2, 2016. In that petition, NERC proposed to improve upon the requirements provided in PRC-001 by either retiring and replacing its requirements in new improved reliability standards or retiring the requirements altogether since they were addressed by other reliability standards previously approved by the Commission. PRC-027, developed from PRC-001 requirements R3 and R4, provides a clear set of requirements that ensure the applicable entities implement a “process for establishing and coordinating new or revised Protection System settings” and periodically study those settings “that could be affected by incremental changes in Fault current to ensure the Protection Systems continue to operate in their intended sequence.”  

     Requirement R1 directs each TO, GO, and DP to establish a process for developing new and revised protection system settings for BES elements. Requirement R2 directs that every six years, applicable entities must either:

1. Perform a protection system coordination study to determine whether the protection systems continue to operate in the intended sequence during faults

2. Compare present fault current values to an established fault current baseline and, only if the comparison identifies a 15% or greater deviation in fault current values (either three phase or phase to ground) at a bus to which the BES is connected, perform a protection system coordination study

3. Use a combination of Options 1 and 2

     Requirement R3 requires applicable entities use the process established under Requirement R1 to develop any new or revised protection system settings. PER-006 more clearly identifies the objective of Protection and Remedial Action System (RAS) training for the GOP with plant personnel responsible for the Real-time control of a generator and receiving Operating Instructions from their RC, BA, TOP or centrally located dispatch center. This new requirement states “Each Generator Operator shall provide training to personnel identified in Applicability section 4.1.1.1 on the operational functionality of Protection Systems and Remedial Action Schemes (RAS) that affect the output of the generating facility(ies) it operates.” This standard clarifies two reworded phrases from the original PRC-001 Requirement R1. The first phrase is “operational functionality” which replaces “purpose and limitations.” This change focuses the training on how protection systems operate and prevents possible damage to elements. It also addresses how RAS detects pre-determined BES conditions and automatically takes corrective actions.

     The second phrase, “that affect the output of the generating Facility(ies) it operates” is used in PER-006 in lieu of the phrase “applied in its area” from PRC-001. Because the term “area” is not used in relation to the GOP function, the new phrase is more appropriate since the GOP should focus on the protection systems’ effect on the generator, including RAS if the generator participates in a RAS.

     This training requirement has no retraining timeframe. While only applicable to the GOP function, the BA, TOP, and RC functions are expected to maintain an understanding of protection systems and RAS systems within their respective areas through their PER-005 SAT approaches and PER-003 training requirements. Also, in conjunction with the new reliability standards, the order provides a new definition for Protection System Coordination Study and revised definitions for the Operational Planning Analysis (OPA) and the Real-time Assessment (RTA), which have been revised to include RAS status or degradation, functions, and limitations.  PRC-027 and PER-006 go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020. PRC-001 is removed from active status on Sept. 30, 2020.

The Impact on You

     The impact of these new Reliability Standards will vary based on the registration of the respective entities.  For PRC-027, TOs, GOs, and DPs who have protection systems installed to detect and isolate faults on BES elements can expect a more formal review of their protection systems over and above the old PRC-001. These entities should review their past and current protection system coordination activities to see if they already align with the new requirements.

     Applicable entities would be well-served to reach out to other applicable entities to get a head start on what, if anything, they need to change or put in place prior to the effective date.  For PER-006, the RCs, BAs, TOPs, and GOPs can expect a deeper review of their training programs, looking to see if they adequately address the functionality of protection systems and RAS in their initial and continuing training programs, as appropriate. OPA and RTA processes may also receive a more formal review to see if they align to the new definitions. 

How Should You Respond?

     As previously mentioned regarding PRC-027, all affected entities should review their protection system coordination activities to make sure they align with the new requirements. It’s also a good idea to compare notes with other entities who must meet the same requirements in PRC-027. For PER-006, the RCs, BAs, and TOPs should review their PER-005 SAT-based program and PER-003 Operator Certification Program to make sure they adequately address the functionality of protection systems and RAS in their initial and continuing training programs. 

     RCs, BAs, and TOPs should also look at their current training and operational process to see if the expanded definitions of the OPA and the RTA may require changes in those processes or the training of those processes.  GOPs can address the training requirement in PER-006 through generic or company-specific training on the operational functionality of protections systems and RAS. The specific system and company training philosophy will drive that decision.

     If a GOP decides to develop company-specific training, the following guidance will help develop effective training while following best practices consistent with PER-005-2 R6 and 6.1.

1. Examine the training -  

Determine what needs to be trained.  According to the PER-006 supplemental material, the training can include:

     • Purpose of protective relays and RAS

     • Zones of protection

     • Protection communication systems such as line current differential, direct transfer    trip, etc.

     • Voltage and current inputs

     • Station DC supply associated with protective functions

     • Resulting actions – tripping/closing of breakers, tripping of a generator step-up (GSU) transformer, or generator ramping/tripping control functions

2. Focus the training -  

• Develop learning objectives, assessment items, and training assessments for the items needing to be trained

3. Build the training -  

• Develop lesson plans and support materials based on the learning objectives and assessment items

4. Execute the training -  

• Conduct training, possibly in multiple mediums, using the materials developed to support training 5. Assess the training

• Assess the impact, quality, and content of your training on a regular basis, which can be after the trainee completes the training and on an annual basis to determine if modifications are needed

Conclusion

     Reliability standards PRC-027 and PER-006 provide new details and compliance requirements on the previously approved standards of PRC-001. While the compliance requirements of PRC-027 and PER-006 are similar to PRC-001, we recommend entities, especially GOPs, look at their current methods of compliance and ensure they are including the necessary details within their compliance and training programs.

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