Compliance management has become a fundamental pillar in the utility sector, particularly with the expanding web of regulations from entities like the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A vital cornerstone of this complex regulatory landscape are “good catch” programs, and they have far-reaching implications for utilities striving to navigate NERC standards and other regulatory mandates.
Organizations are investing more time and resources into formal methods that promote potential non-compliance awareness, as evidenced by three utility members highlighting their “good catch” processes at the June 2023 Midwest Reliability Organization webinar CMEPAC – Good Catch Program Webinar – Midwest Reliability Organization (mro.net). The differences in these utilities’ approaches underscore there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of potential non-compliance management. However, a common thread that links these processes is the proactive emphasis on awareness, investigation, subsequent remediation or mitigation of the potential issues, communication, and the appropriate level of reporting.
What is the good catch process?
The good catch process is a mechanism to identify and rectify potential compliance issues before they become actual non-compliance issues or to validate that a suspected non-compliance situation rises to the level of self-logging or self-reporting. It’s a proactive strategy that encourages employees at all levels to raise flags when they spot possible deviations from compliance requirements. The unique benefit of this approach is its potential to cultivate a culture of compliance within an organization, reinforcing the importance of regulatory adherence. Given the nature of NERC compliance, adopting this process is particularly beneficial. NERC’s rigorous standards require an intricate understanding and meticulous monitoring, which can be challenging even for seasoned compliance professionals.
A good catch system, coupled with a robust NERC compliance management tool, can significantly streamline this complex process. A modern NERC compliance management tool* can provide a centralized database for managing compliance obligations, tracking potential issues, and initiating corrective action plans. It can also automate the monitoring of regulatory changes and updates, ensuring organizations stay ahead of the curve. However, selecting the right tool is as important as implementing the process itself. The ideal solution should be adaptable to the utility’s unique needs, support a culture of compliance, and facilitate the transformation from a reactive to a proactive approach. In essence, it should not only enable utilities to stay compliant but also empower them to drive performance improvements and achieve operational excellence.
Another critical aspect of a good catch program is how potential non-compliance issues are dealt with once identified. Remediation or mitigation steps must be proportionate to the potential risk. They must be implemented promptly to prevent the risk from materializing or stop the bleeding for validated non-compliance matters. A compliance management tool can provide valuable data insights to inform decision-making and prioritize actions based on potential or realized risk severity.
While focusing on NERC compliance, it’s important to acknowledge that these practices can be applied across other regulatory areas, such as market violations and tariffs. The regulatory landscape continues to evolve, and utilities must be prepared to adapt. A good catch process and a robust compliance management tool provide utilities with the flexibility and agility they need to stay compliant in this ever-changing environment.
As utility companies continue to work towards strengthening their compliance programs, the insights gleaned from the MRO webinar reiterate the value of developing good catch processes. Coupling these with a comprehensive NERC compliance management tool like Karta’s, provides a powerful strategy for enhancing regulatory compliance, reducing risks, and ensuring overall reliability within the electric sector.