GRDA and the Culture of Compliance

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority


The word is spoken dozens of times a day around the Grand River Dam Authority. In many key areas – lake management and licensing, electric generation, system operations, network security, public accounting and more – staying compliant takes daily, hourly, even minute by minute effort on the part of GRDA’s workforce.

GRDA System Operators take part in a training class conducted in-house at the GRDA Energy Control Center. To stay in compliance with federal regulations – and to fill their roles as the constant eyes and ears over the Authority’s energy delivery system – operators complete 70 to 80 hours of training each year.

As a “bulk electrical system” that produces and provides its product 24/7/365, GRDA operates under very strict regulations and must comply with all standards of agencies like the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

The Energy Policy Act of 1995 empowered NERC with the authority to set industry standards for the national power grid and to enforce compliance with those standards. GRDA has many electric-related areas – like engineering, planning, design and delivery – that fall under these requirements.  In fact, every GRDA system operator must stay NERC-certified and accomplishes this by completing 70 to 80 hours of training each year. That is very important because these operators are GRDA’s constant eyes and ears over a portion of the national electric grid that represents a GRDA investment of roughly $140 million in Oklahoma. That figure does not even include all the investments of customers depending on GRDA electricity every single day.

So for GRDA, maintaining a “culture of compliance” is not just a hope, it’s really a necessity. And in recent months, the Authority has received positive feedback from NERC and other compliance oversight agencies, like the Southwest Power Pool, for its compliance efforts. While operating in a complex electric utility environment – with thousands of rules and regulations affecting hundreds of different tasks – can prove challenging, GRDA has been able to make great strides. Today, with a dedicated internal compliance team in place, GRDA is working to become a leader in compliance within the industry.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.