How MRO’s volunteers are making a difference…
The challenges we face today as our economy becomes increasingly more electrified, along with the changing resource mix, decarbonization of the grid, and increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather events, place an even greater emphasis on the need for a resilient and reliable power grid.
The ERO Enterprise (collectively NERC and the six Regional Entities) shares an important vision with industry of a highly reliable and secure North American bulk power system (BPS). Our mission is to identify, prioritize and assure effective and efficient mitigation of risks to the reliability and security of the North American BPS. At MRO, we do this by promoting Highly Effective Reliability Organizations® (or HEROs). HEROs are the companies (and individuals) that practice HRO theory and principles each day to keep the small stuff small and prevent uncontrolled, cascading system outages.
One of the ways that MRO supports HEROs is by sharing information, lessons learned and best practices with industry through a variety of assessments, reports, outreach, and educational events. MRO often relies on industry volunteers to assist with these efforts. MRO’s industry-led organizational groups provide the perfect forum for subject matter experts across the region to share information and best practices that promote the health and resiliency of the interconnected power grid.
Here’s just a few examples of the work our organizational groups do to address risk:
Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program Advisory Council
- Plans and hosts MRO’s annual CMEP conference and regular webinars on topics that promote HERO principles and continuous improvement.
- Publishes articles throughout the year that provide clarity to industry on compliance-related topics and standard requirements.
- Hosts a monthly call to share best practices and help entities develop strong compliance programs.
- Reviews MRO’s self-certification worksheets and workbooks to help MRO develop clear questions for a smooth engagement.
- Works with industry to identify the need for, and then draft and publish, Standard Application Guides (SAGs). SAGs are written by industry experts within the MRO region and are submitted to the ERO Enterprise for review and endorsement.
- Supports the NERC Standards Review Forum (NSRF), which meets weekly to review and discuss the development of NERC Reliability Standards.
- As a forum, stakeholders collaborate on jointly agreed-upon comments to NERC and on the development of voting recommendations for NERC ballots.
Reliability Advisory Council
- Plans and hosts multiple outreach events, like MRO’s annual Reliability Conference and Cold Weather Preparedness Workshop.
- Publishes articles to educate and raise awareness around bulk power system reliability and related risks (e.g., Managing Periods of Bulk Power System Instability).
- Helps to identify and assess regional reliability risks, challenges, and mitigating activities for MRO’s annual Regional Risk Assessment.
- Directs the work of the Protective Relay Subgroup, which held a webinar in July highlighting the FERC/NERC and Regional Entity Staff Protection System Commissioning Report. (This report is related to the Misoperations Due to Errors Occurring During Commissioning risk that was identified in the 2022 Regional Risk Assessment.)
Security Advisory Council
- Host multiple security events, like the annual Security Conference and Training, and publish newsletter articles on relevant security topics.
- Develop and maintain connections with security experts from utility companies, law enforcement, emergency response, and U.S. and Canadian government agencies across the region and establish an open communication path with these individuals.
- Participate in GridEx and debrief MRO registered entities.
- Establish a threat forum that meets weekly along with the E-ISAC to discuss new and emerging threats (very useful during the pandemic, SolarWinds, and Ukraine situations). The forum also publishes a weekly summary of topics discussed on the calls for registered entity security staff.
- Annually identify cyber, physical and control center security risks most impactful to the region and develop mitigation strategies, which are reflected in MRO’s Regional Risk Assessment.
This work would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of the more than 100 individuals that volunteer their time, energy, expertise and experience on MRO’s organizational groups.
How can you participate?
Changes to bulk power system supply and demand are happening at an unprecedented rate, and yet we know the pace of change is likely to never again be this slow. We need the expertise and experience of industry volunteers now more than ever before!
MRO is currently soliciting candidates for a variety of open or expiring positions on MRO’s organizational groups, its board of directors, or as representatives on NERC’s organizational groups.
Here’s what past volunteers have to say:
“By volunteering my time I become part of the solution. I get to work with MRO Staff and reach a solution that satisfies both the Entity and the MRO. It also allows me to be aware of new processes, thus allowing me and by Company to work proactively and be prepared for change.”
“It has been a great experience. I really like how each member takes on different initiatives to achieve the overall mission. MRO’s staff has been great about encouraging and facilitating participation amongst the members.”
“In my experience, participating in an MRO organizational group has been low risk, high reward. The base time commitment is relatively low, but every bit of additional time invested in hosting webinars, conferences, and writing articles had exponential benefit to the region.”
“Reliability is much stronger when we work together. MRO provides the opportunity for us to get involved and work together.”
To participate on an MRO organizational group, your company must be a member of MRO. You can view a list of MRO members here, along with the qualifications for membership and how to apply.
If you or someone you know is interested in participating, please consider submitting a nomination today.
More about MRO Membership
Membership with MRO is something that often flies under the radar. Unlike many organizations where members are the primary funding mechanism, membership with MRO is free of charge.
MRO membership provides organizations the opportunity to:
- Support reliability and security efforts across the regional footprint (all or part of 16 states and 2 Canadian provinces)
- Participate and provide input to a variety of risk mitigation activities
- Vote on corporate matters, like board membership and bylaw revisions
- Develop a network of industry peers within and across a variety of industry sectors
Nobel Prize winner Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the UN and a graduate of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota said
“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”
Annan’s thoughts offers a compelling case for engaging in the important work we are doing at MRO to provide for a reliable and secure bulk power system.