Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content



RF Research Published in London School of Economics Handbook Research Published in London School of Economics Handbook<p>​RF is pleased to announce that a project led by Carl Dister, Chief Innovation Manager, has been published in the London School of Economics (LSE) Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science.</p><p><br> Inspired by NERC's Reliability Assurance Initiative in 2012, Carl began researching various methods around the world that aid in analyzing the reliability of complex systems like the grid. The resulting RF research is now one of the 26 chapters in the Handbook, alongside others by various academic researchers and practitioners in the field of complexity science around the world. Also called systems theory, complexity science merges social science with physics and the use of big data methods to resolve problems within complex systems. The book provides in-depth case studies meant to provide concrete examples of complexity science in everyday life scenarios, including organizations, infrastructures, higher education institutes, and music performance. </p><p><br> <strong>Q</strong><strong>:  How did RF become involved with this project?</strong><br></p><p> <strong>A</strong><strong>: </strong>During a comprehensive search for methods in analyzing reliability, a particular roadmap caught our attention. It turned out the author was a researcher right in Ohio, specifically Brian Castellani, a sociology professor at Kent State University's Ashtabula campus. Brian had created an interactive global complexity science roadmap that displayed applied research in complex systems over the last 100 years. The LSE was interested in putting a case study in their handbook that utilized the SACS toolkit, an intermediary instrument with an algorithm for researchers to model complex systems with web data. Brian Castellani is the main developer of the toolkit, and it had only been applied to the fields of public health and psychology. RF was interested in utilizing the toolkit for infrastructure, which we worked on, and the LSE selected it for inclusion in the Handbook.<br></p><p> <strong>Q</strong><strong>:  Tell us about your chapter in the book.</strong><br><strong></strong></p><p> <strong>A</strong><strong>:</strong>  Our work is featured in Chapter 14: Modeling Social Complexity in Infrastructures: A Case-based Approach to Improving Reliability and Resiliency. Along with another professor at Kent's Ashtabula campus, Dr. Rajeev Rajaram, Brian Castellani and I used the SACS toolkit method to investigate the root causes of reliability issues within the grid. I noticed that misoperations was a key risk in our region, and we had yet to make much headway in finding its root causes. From a systems theory perspective, it appeared that the root causes of the problem may go beyond the equipment itself. Considering rates for crime, physical and mental illnesses, unemployment, and other social factors both in our country and in our communities we can get an idea of other issues that may cause power industry workers, both in the field and in the office, to make mistakes at work.<br> </p><p><strong>Q</strong><strong>:  What impact do you think the work could have on electric reliability?</strong><br><strong></strong></p><p> <strong>A</strong>:  I think it can challenge us to dig a little deeper when we look at the causes of certain events.  Perhaps we could get to a point where we really evaluate the underpinning of human behavior in the workforce. Already, we are beginning to address Human Performance as a risk to the grid, with NERC hosting their Human Performance Conference last year and RF hosting one this year. We have identified that human behavior can cause problems, but we have yet to fully understand and address all the ways this can translate to potential risks to the grid. We are doing this more as we continue our use of management practices, which drive improved performance by focusing on human beings. Finally, the fact the book is out of London may help encourage the consideration of international perspectives and challenge us to think globally to address complex issues on our bulk electric system.  </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font>aspx0x010100C568DB52D9D0A14D9B2FDCC96666E9F2007948130EC3DB064584E219954237AF3900242457EFB8B24247815D688C526CD44D0093A70D41E916EA45B5172B8FDD4B3EFA00F578CE634144CA46817471FA34146B93
RF, SERC, and WECC to Issue Joint Report on CIP Themes, SERC, and WECC to Issue Joint Report on CIP Themes<font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;">To combat the ever changing physical and cyber-threats landscape, entities continue to improve their tools, expertise, and defense strategies. Yet, despite these efforts to stay ahead of security threats, entities are sometimes held back by deficiencies or limitations in their corporate structure, culture, or resources.</p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;">In 2014, RF, in coordination with NERC and several stakeholders, began analyzing data around potential themes in these deficiencies and limitations and released its findings in early 2015 in the first edition of the CIP themes report. Now, RF, SERC, and WECC have been working together to analyze the data in the three Regions around potential themes. The Regions handle large volumes of noncompliance and their territories cover a large part of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. This collaboration has helped identify new areas for improvement and potential resolutions to some of the deficiencies and allowed for validation of the data in each Region.</p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;">RF, SERC, and WECC, in coordination with NERC and several stakeholders from the three Regions, plan to issue a joint report in early 2018 in order to help drive entities to continue to assess and strengthen their CIP programs and thus mitigate security risks.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font>aspx0x010100C568DB52D9D0A14D9B2FDCC96666E9F2007948130EC3DB064584E219954237AF3900242457EFB8B24247815D688C526CD44D0093A70D41E916EA45B5172B8FDD4B3EFA00F578CE634144CA46817471FA34146B93
RF Participates in GridEx IV Participates in GridEx IV<font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;">Since 2011, NERC has hosted a biennial Grid Exercise for industry and government organizations throughout North America. Set up as a tabletop simulation, organizations have the opportunity to demonstrate how they would respond to severe cyber and physical security threats.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">These Grid Exercises are created to determine where improvements need to be made in response plans in an exciting and interactive way that does not involve any sort of compliance action.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">GridEx IV was designed to challenge utilities and to really test the friction points. The 2015 cyber-attack in Ukraine, as well as the recent spreading of “Fake News” across social media, were key influencers for creating this year's simulation. More than 6,500 participants from 450 industry agencies and organizations participated in this year's Grid Exercise. Participants include the utilities, RTO’s, Regions, the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Department of Defense. While some participants actively responded to events, others simply observed the exercise.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">RF has been participating since the onset of GridEx, and enjoyed the unique challenges of GridEx IV. Representatives from RF participated on the GridEx Working Group in developing the scenario for GridEx IV. Once the master scenario was annualized, RF developed injects (simulated events) specific to RF resources, including our IT Infrastructure and our corporate communications capabilities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The purpose of these custom injects was to test recently improved internal processes and procedures related to Event Analysis, Situation Awareness, Incident Identification and Response, and Emergency Communications. Throughout the 2-day exercise, RF staff collaborated with participating staff from NERC, our RTOs, and Registered Entities to understand how the scenario was unfolding and what our entities were experiencing as a result of the exercise. We were also able to identify how RF could assist our entities’ response to the scenario.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Going forward, RF will participate in NERC-led discussions to capture lessons learned across the ERO and will incorporate those lessons learned, as well as our own internal lessons learned into continuing to improve our internal processes and procedures.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">We will continue to work with others within the ERO to improve communications between and among NERC, the Regional Entities and the Registered Entities so we are all better prepared should a real event of the magnitude simulated in GridEx IV occur.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font>aspx0x010100C568DB52D9D0A14D9B2FDCC96666E9F2007948130EC3DB064584E219954237AF3900242457EFB8B24247815D688C526CD44D0093A70D41E916EA45B5172B8FDD4B3EFA00F578CE634144CA46817471FA34146B93
RF Issues Winter Readiness Best Practices/Lessons Learned Issues Winter Readiness Best Practices/Lessons Learned<font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">RF has developed a collaborative process to look at winter readiness across our Region and share Best Practices and Lessons Learned across the ERO.  We use risk-based criteria to select entities to participate in the winter preparation process. Survey responses are evaluated and any additional requests for information (RFIs) are developed, as needed, to gain a better understanding of an entity's level of cold weather readiness and mitigation of previous cold weather related issues. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font class="ms-rteFontSize-2" color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font class="ms-rteFontSize-2" color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">If a generating facility is selected for an onsite visit, items for discussion and spot check are listed on the meeting agenda, which allows the entity to collect the necessary information and arrange for SME participation. Any Best Practices and Lessons Learned observed during the site visit are reviewed and discussed with the plant staff.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font class="ms-rteFontSize-2" color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font class="ms-rteFontSize-2" color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">RF recently issued a </span><a href="/KnowledgeCenter/Risk%20Analysis/ColdWeather/KC%20%20Risk%20Analysis%20%20Cold%20Weather%20Preparedness%20Libra/2014-2017%20Winterization%20Visit%20Best%20Practices.pdf"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">revised Best Practices/Lessons Learned presentation</span></a><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">. This presentation encompasses not only items identified during the recent winter preparation process, but areas from previous plant visits and those recognized by other Regions. As you will see in the Best Practices/Lessons Learned, although the occurrence of frozen critical transmitters appears to be lessening, freezing and/or icing of combustion turbine inlet air filters appears to be a continual problem causing trips or de-rates.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font>aspx0x010100C568DB52D9D0A14D9B2FDCC96666E9F2007948130EC3DB064584E219954237AF3900242457EFB8B24247815D688C526CD44D0093A70D41E916EA45B5172B8FDD4B3EFA00F578CE634144CA46817471FA34146B93

 Contact Info

​ReliabilityFirst Corporation
3 Summit Park Drive, Suite 600
Cleveland, OH 44131

p. (216) 503-0600
f.  (216) 503-9207

Normal Business Hours:
8am - 5pm EST
Monday through Friday