Situational Awareness

The Situation Awareness and Infrastructure Security Program is the combination of near real time awareness of conditions on the bulk power system with the programs necessary to increase the physical and cyber security of the electricity infrastructure.  This includes the operation and maintenance of tools and other support services for the benefit of Reliability Coordinators (RCs) and the system operators within the registered entities.
 
Maintaining the real-time awareness of conditions on the interconnected bulk power systems by the NPCC Reliability Coordinator (including awareness of abnormal events, communicating information concerning system conditions and abnormal events to, and facilitating real-time communications among, system operators responsible for the reliable operation of the bulk power systems) is critical to maintaining reliable operation within NPCC.  On an ongoing, but non-real time basis, NPCC monitors the operational status of the bulk power system and coordinates normal and pre-emergency communication, awareness and assistance in addition to the same during an emergency among the Reliability Coordinators within NPCC and its neighboring RCs.

 -  Each week conference calls of the operations management personnel are initiated by NPCC to discuss operations expected, and identify possible concerns, during the forthcoming ten-day period (weekend and week following).
 -  Each morning, the NPCC Reliability Coordinator control rooms also take part in a regularly scheduled conference call.  The goal of this call is to alert all neighboring Reliability Coordinators of any potential emerging problems which could lead to reliability concerns in the course of the day’s operations. Subjects for discussion are limited to credible events which could impact the ability of a Reliability Coordinator to serve its load and meet its operating reserve obligations, or which would impose a burden to the neighboring NPCC Areas or the Eastern Interconnection. 
 -  The “NPCC Emergency Preparedness Conference Call Procedures” provide a mechanism that enables the Reliability Coordinator in NPCC, and, as required, their counterparts in neighboring Regions, to rapidly communicate the status of current operating conditions, to facilitate the procurement of assistance during emergency conditions and to identify potential physical or cyber threats to the system.
 
To ensure the capability for continued voice communications among NPCC and its Reliability Coordinators, a satellite telephone network has also established, and it is tested on a monthly basis.  This back-up communications system will function in the event of a collapse of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), and cross-border voice communications can still be maintained among the Canadian Reliability Coordinators of NPCC and the Reliability Coordinators in the United States.
 
To assist in the evaluation of emerging tools to better identify evolving system conditions, NPCC actively coordinates the utilization of existing operational aids, and the implementation of new operational aids, including the Area Control Error (ACE) and Frequency Monitoring System: the NERC Hotline; Real-time Flows; the System Data Exchange (SDX); the Reliability Coordinator Information System (RCIS); the Transmission Services Information Network (TSIN); the Interchange Distribution Calculator (IDC); the interregional Security Network (ISN); and the Central Repository for Security Events (CRC).
 
NPCC also works with the registered entities to appropriately respond to the NERC Alert system, a process through which notifications of potential threats to electric reliability are disseminated to the industry with the expectations placed on the entity proportional to the severity of the Alert being issued.
 
NPCC’s critical infrastructure objectives are defined within the scope of the NPCC Task Force on Infrastructure Security and Technology, (TFIST) and include, but are not solely confined to, providing a forum for NPCC review of proposed and posted documents from the NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee (CIPC) and providing the NPCC representation and advocacy for the NPCC positions in the activities of NERC groups involved in the development and / or implementation of physical and cyber security.
 
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