NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the standards of the bulk electric transmission across North America, covering the USA, Canada, and Mexico. The corporation ensures that power systems in the region are compliant with NERC’s CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) plan and are trustworthy.
This is done to ensure the safety of everyone using bulk power systems from natural and unnatural threats. Therefore, many companies that use power systems rely on NERC CIP compliance solutions providers like Proven Compliance Solution to ensure they are legally compliant. This article will dive deeper into the need for NERC CIP compliance and the process involved.
Who needs NERC CIP Compliance and when?
One of the first things you need to know about the NERC CIP Compliance is to be legally compliant. The answer is simple: any individual or company owns or uses bulk electric systems (BES). BES is not your local power plants or remotely close to the electrical systems in your house; instead, these refer to the large power facilities that provide electricity to the smaller plants.
Benefits of being NERC CIP Compliant
Meeting the requirements of the NERC CIP compliance may seem like a cumbersome task. However, it is all worth it to have a reliable and robust power system. Therefore, instead of seeing these requirements as a headache, take it as an opportunity to improve safety and infrastructure.
Moreover, these guidelines are meant for the good of everyone, including users, owners, and operators of BES systems, as well as common folk that uses electricity. Here are the potential benefits of passing the NERC CIP compliance test:
- Better operational control
- You understand the costs better
- Refined readiness for disruption
- Heightened environmental awareness
- Enhanced power-grid protection
Consequences of non-compliance
NERC holds power to penalize any BES systems operator, user, and owner not meeting the CIP compliance guidelines. This penalty can be punitive measures, imposed sanctions, or fines. When it comes to fines, NERC can fine you up to $1 million per day per violation. However, the penalty is dependent on how reliable the system is, whether the violation was on purpose, whether you attempted to conceal the violation, and how cooperative the organization or individual was.
How to be NERC CIP compliant?
NERC CIP guidelines have undergone several updates since 2008. At present, there are 11 standards and around 45 technical requirements that companies must meet. Given below is a brief on the 11 standards:
- BES Cyber System Categorization (CIP-002)
- Security Management Control (CIP-003)
- Personnel and Training (CIP-004)
- Electronic Security Perimeters (CIP-005)
- Physical Security Perimeter of BES Cyber Systems (CIP-006)
- Systems Security Management (CIP-007)
- Reporting & response preparations (CIP-008)
- Recovery Plan for BES systems (CIP-009)
- Configuration change management and vulnerability (CIP–010)
- Information protection (CIP-011)
- Physical security (CIP-014)
Tips on being compliant:
- It is always smart to conduct a mock audit to prepare you for the questions you may face.
- Be prepared to show the process and proof of compliance as opposed to a checked-off list.
- Listen to the auditor’s advice because they have visited your site to offer tips on compliance and know what they are talking about.
NERC CIP compliance is directly related to the safety of the power systems used. Therefore, it is not an option but a mandatory legal requirement for all companies and individuals that own BES systems.
There are fines and other punitive actions that are imposed in case of non-compliance, while compliance ensures improved grip operation and operation control. With benefits outweighing needing NERC CIP Compliance and assistance in ensuring the same is no longer a question.