Evans Heacock,  NERC Compliance Director, CertrecEvans Heacock, NERC Compliance Director
Electricity fuels American lives and businesses. To ensure effective operations, power plant companies must comply with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) standards to avoid incurring expensive penalties. This ensures customers do not suffer from grid instability. Even fluctuations in temperature can cause safety concerns and temporary halts, resulting in inconveniences and serious issues that could prevent people from running essential equipment. One recent disaster, the worst blackout in Texas history, resulted in 246 deaths. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries alone rely on electricity-dependent medical and assistive equipment. It is imperative that power plants keep the grid safe, reliable, and resilient to protect this and other at-risk populations.

Enter Certrec, a leading provider of regulatory and technology solutions for the energy industry. Certrec’s team possesses decades of engineering and audit experience working with the NERC, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and other regulatory agencies. Through its proprietary technology, frameworks, and processes, Certrec helps clients be compliant and keep the grid reliable.

“We offer SaaS solutions to help clients reduce penalty and reputational risks by keeping their plants operational and ensuring a stable electric supply,” says Evans Heacock, NERC Compliance Director, Certrec.

People

Within Certrec’s team, three-quarters of Certrec’s NERC compliance consultants have 30+ years of plant operating and compliance experience. This real-world power plant know-how in regulatory compliance, engineering, and licensing for nuclear, fossil, solar, wind, and other generation and transmission entities means the team has valuable insights into the challenges that plants are facing. Certrec’s people have operational and compliance know-how, helping them deliver effective, low-risk and trusted compliance programs (Since 2015, out of 300 Certrec NERC clients, zero received fines).

Products

Certrec recently developed an industry-first with a free online NERC CIP assessment tool that helps power plants determine how they are doing regarding NERC critical infrastructure protection (CIP) compliance. This test grades energy companies’ NERC CIP status by gauging their security measures within 15 minutes and assisting them in identifying points of improvement. After the health check, a 30-minute complimentary phone call with Certrec’s NERC CIP experts helps further by answering questions about their test results.

Another industry first is Certrec’s immediately available on-demand CORE compliance consulting services, available via e-commerce. Customers can select how much help they need, pay with a credit card, and begin receiving immediate assistance from NERC experts. If a plant is in dire need of addressing a disaster or preparing for an audit, there is no need to wait days for proposals and the procurement department.

Certrec also offers the most trusted source of regulatory information, RegSource, which helps clients stay up-to-date on critical compliance-related industry information curated by experts. This SaaS app is available anytime, anywhere to locate complex NRC or NERC documents quickly and efficiently.

Processes

Certrec’s proprietary framework, Certrec NERCJoules™, comprises proven methodologies, products, and workflows that Certrec and its clients can use to deliver results with a lower risk of non-compliance, fines, and reputational damage.

Certrec’s Cybersecurity solutions

As cyber threats to energy infrastructure become more common, Certrec has taken steps to secure its own company and offerings and is now providing the same solutions they use to protect their customers from unwanted compromises and breaches. Certrec recently completed its fifth SOC 2 Type II verification and seventh ISO 27001:2013 review, with zero findings since 2017, successfully setting it apart from competitors in its commitment to security and data protection.

We are probably the most conservative, risk-averse SaaS compliance solutions provider in the utility industry. In the last 7 years, over 350 of Certrec’s NERC clients who were audited, received zero fines


“We ensure 99.99+ percent uptime from our secure private compliance cloud, which means 5 minutes or less of unplanned downtime, which is better than most public cloud services,” adds Heacock.

Established to deliver compliance services in 1988 to support nuclear power plants, Certrec has evolved to include wind, hydro, solar, and battery storage types of power generating facilities to meet its clients’ compliance requirements. As the market leader for nuclear compliance, the gold standard of risk averseness, Certrec’s robust procedures and processes can also help other power plants to reduce their risk of non-compliance.

Conclusion

With threats from inclement weather and increasing attacks on critical infrastructure, it is key that power plants be prepared and proactive. By complying with regulations and working with Certrec, power plants can avoid costly disruptions and reputational damage. Certrec helps clients avoid expensive fines and works to keep the plants in compliance and out of the news, thus ensuring a stable electricity supply for the public.