Gap Analysis / Evidence Review
MPC conducts gap analysis / evidence reviews for all types of Registered and Non-Registered Entities. MPC Principal Consultants have a thorough understanding of the NERC Reliability Standards and the typical evidence that the auditor is reviews for specific standards and requirements. MPC understands the concept of “evidence stacking,” which is now be required and reviewed during audits and can help an Entity implement this process.
MPC has develop a unique set of questionnaires, data requests and compliance evidence evaluation tools that will be used to evaluate a Registered Entities compliance with each standard and requirement. At the completion of a gap analysis / evidence review we will provides a full report on the review, including a compliance analysis, list of action item items required to close compliance gaps and a list of other suggested improvements that will further strengthen and reinforce a Registered Entities compliance posture.
The gap analysis / evidence review can be completed as part of a mock audit (as discussed in the next section), or as just an evidence review. MPC also has implemented FTP uploads to the MPC corporate servers which can allow for a gap analysis / compliance review on some standards to be completed without an on-site visit.
Mock Audits and Audit Preparation
While conducting a gap analysis or compliance review, MPC can conduct the review in a mock audit format. Using this method, MPC sends an audit notice, questionnaire and data request similar to what the Regions do. MPC then submits additional data requests along with requests for interviews in a formal format as would an audit team. MPC will then except the responses to the requests in the same time frames as the Region would require. When using this format, MPC will use the “step out of the mock audit” mode when necessary to make sure the Entity processes the requests so that MPC can complete a full gap analysis / compliance evaluation during the mock audit.
MPC has also developed training materials that address the audit process and the interfacing with the audit team. Most entities have found that having all of the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), attend this training before an audit can be very valuable and have a large influence on the outcome of an audit. Remember, while many of your SMEs may be experts on their technical subjects, many are not experts on audit interviews and explaining evidence to an auditor.
Registration of Registered Entities determines responsibility for compliance with NERC Reliability Standards. MPC can help you understand the NERC registration requirements and determine if your facilities or functions require registration. Proper registration is essential to avoid costly penalties should a Compliance Enforcement Authority (CEA), disagree with your company’s internal registration determination. Once a CEA has determined that a Registered Entity should be registered for additional functions, there is usually only a small, or in some cases, no implementation period for the newly identified registration functions. The CEA could immediately require the submittal of Self-Certification forms for the newly registered functions. The inability to show immediate compliance with the newly required functions could result in large monetary penalties.
MPC is also an expert in the registration appeals process. To date most registration appeals have ruled in favor of the CEA.
MPC can provide an Entity insight on the registration appeal process and guidance on how to prepare an appeal, along with the technical justification necessary to support a registration appeal.
Hearings & Settlements
Almost 100 percent of contested compliance violations have been resolved during a settlement conference. Success at a settlement conference usually can be measured by reducing a proposed penalty by 50 percent or greater. In some cases, discussion during a settlement conference can result in penalties being reduced to zero and at times, having some or all violations dismissed.
You do not want to sit down across the table from the Compliance Enforcement Authority (CEA) enforcement group at a settlement conference until you have had a strategy session with MPC. Steve McCoy has first-hand experience at numerous settlement conferences and can guide you through the entire settlement process.
MPC can provide:
- General strategy information
- Specific strategies for each alleged violation
- Prepare technical supporting documentation needed
- Sit at the table with you when you meet with the CEA
Call MPC before you meet with any CEA in a settlement conference.
If you be unable to resolve a compliance or registration issue during a settlement conference, MPC can help you prepare for a regional hearing and NERC and FERC appeals. MPC has considerable experience in the regional and NERC and FERC hearing and appeal processes regarding registration disputes.
The Compliance Enforcement Authority (CEA) can initiate a Compliance Violation Investigation (CVI) anytime they believe a possible violation of a reliability standard has occurred. Any grid event that occurs on your system will most likely result in a CVI. The CVI can be initiated by the regional CEA or NERC. NERC is currently staffing a large group of Compliance Investigators to conduct CVI’s. FERC is also investigating many grid events.
MPC can help your company prepare for a CVI by:
- Evaluating the CVI notice and determining the nature and scope of the CVI
- Preparing technical data response to CVI data requests
- Facilitating the CVI process
- Providing direct support during CVI interviews