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Latest on the Align and SEL Projects

Align and the Secure Evidence Locker (SEL) are ERO Enterprise initiatives to coordinate Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program (CMEP) activities across North America.

On June 16, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order regarding the use of the ERO SEL for the collection of evidence related to Reliability Standard CIP-014-2. In its ruling, FERC stated that it approved NERC’s petition to remove the on-site evidence viewing requirement for this specific standard and that the ERO SEL “now offers a secure and more flexible alternative for compliance evidence collection and review for Reliability Standard CIP-014-2.” In addition, the ruling stated that the removal of the evidence provision in this standard “will allow NERC to monitor compliance more effectively without compromising the confidentiality of sensitive information.”

Release 4 of the Align tool was deployed into production on June 21, 2022. Release 4 included additional required features and enhancements for compliance monitoring, audit, and scheduling activities.

The final planned release of Align (4.5) has been delayed beyond the latest communicated September 2022 schedule. There will be more information on the updated schedule later this year. Release 4.5 includes features to enable development of registered entity Inherent Risk Assessments (IRAs) and Compliance Oversight Plans (COPs) that will be performed within Align.

Data migration enabling the retirement of the legacy system (webCDMS) has also been delayed for both historical data and for open enforcement actions (OEAs). All entities who have OEAs in the legacy system are still required to have access to webCDMS. Entities who wish to continue to have access to historical data within the legacy system will also need to continue to have access to webCDMS. More details on the timing of both open and closed data migration will be communicated later this year.

The deployment of features required for Canadian entity use of Align has also been delayed. Further details on timing of this deployment will be communicated later this year.

The ERO Enterprise remains committed to the effectiveness of the CMEP and has invested in Align and the SEL to improve security, automation and efficiency, and consistency of CMEP activities. We appreciate your patience as we work through these important projects.

 Please visit the NERC Training Site for access to all Align and ERO SEL training materials, including training videos and user guides. Reach out to your MRO Regional Training Leads, Ryan McNamara and Michael Spangenberg at [email protected], with any Release 1 Align and ERO SEL-related access or training questions.

If you experience any technical issues, please submit a NERC help desk ticket here.

– Marissa Falco, MRO Risk Assessment and Mitigation Technical Coordinator