The North America Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) recently released its strategic plan for the corporation's activities in 2008 and beyond. The plan is the result of a strategic planning workshop held by the NERC Board of Trustees on August 15, 2007.

The previous NERC strategic plan, with which Gowlings' David McFadden was involved, was completed in June 2003 and was intended to cover the period from 2003 - 2006. It was updated in August 2004 to address specific changes required as a result of the August 14, 2003 blackout in Northeastern North America. The plan had centered on a list of priority goals with high level mission, vision and value statements as the backdrop. The result of this plan was the development of a list of priority goals during the transition period which helped form the basis for several of the present program areas such as standards, compliance, reliability assessment, situation awareness and infrastructure security.

Since the previous plan was developed, several changes have taken place both in the United States and Canada. In Canada, NERC's Reliability Standards have been recognized and play a role in the development and enforcement of standards. However, the enforceability of these Standards varies from province to province. In Ontario, for example, the Standards have been mandatory since May 2002, whereas Quebec only adopted legislation establishing these standards in 2006.

In 2007, NERC revised its internal planning processes to provide for consistency and continuity for its three planning phases: strategic planning; program area work plans; and the annual business plan and budget. With this process, the strategic planning phase will produce a longer term (approximately five-year) plan that provides overall direction for the company and incorporates new industry plans. The goal is for the strategic plan to be revisited on a two-year cycle with work completed and ready for approval during the regularly scheduled fall Board of Trustees meeting. Program area plans will be completed before March of each subsequent year and the final phase of the NERC internal planning process will be the development of the annual business plan and budget.

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