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How are Energy Industry Standards created and become Federal Regulations?

Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

In 1995 I was introduced to a new standards development organization, called the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB). Since that time, GISB has evolved and expanded its scope to become the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB), a formally accredited ANSI Standards Development Organization, that now produces standards for both the retail and wholesale Electric/Gas industries. Frequently, these NAESB standards are adopted by FERC and become part of the Code of Federal Regulations. For example, a NAESB standard called OASIS is used to administer Transmission Capacity and is a FERC regulation. Some NAESB standards have also been adopted for use within State energy programs, such as Pennsylvania, New York and Texas.

Here it is in 2019 and I’m still actively and happily involved in the development of energy standards within NAESB. I started wondering if the general population knows how an energy industry standard is conceived and ultimately makes its way into becoming a regulation, so I wrote this article to provide insights into this process. NOTE: There are others standards development organizations producing energy industry standards, I provide access to this material from NAESB simply to provide insights into one such process.

NAESB already provides an excellent overview of the standards development process, so there is no need for me to repeat that here. I encourage those interested in how standards are developed in NAESB to review the process overview document.

In this article I provide my own personal experiences from committee meetings, where the real work of defining these standards takes place. Think of this article as a look inside the process box labeled Recommendations including new or modified standards are prepared by EC Subcommittees” from the NAESB process overview document, cited above.

A NAESB committee starts the process by discussing the standards request filed with NAESB. The committee determines if any existing standards, with some changes, could satisfy the request then efforts are undertaken to enhance the existing standard. In cases where a new standard is warranted the committee discusses the request usually by specifying some guiding principles, primary objectives and constraints or goals of the submitter of the request, such as timeline for delivery. All of this takes place under a consensus-based approach in which all interested parties may influence the committee’s outcome. Good listening, diplomacy and persuasion skills are critical success factors of the participating committee members.  After considerable discussion, negotiation and consensus building, a written recommendation is produced, which describes the proposed standard. This recommendation is submitted for review by the NAESB membership and all comments are referred to the committee for consideration, which could change the final recommendation that is submitted to the Executive Committee. Additional details on voting and other matters can be viewed here.

I hope you find this information of use, in the event you are called upon to participate in a NAESB standards development initiative.

Richard Brooks's picture

Thank Richard for the Post!

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