Protecting the nation’s electric power grid and ensuring an affordable, reliable and secure supply of energy are top priorities for electric cooperatives, and the electric power industry as a whole. The North American power system is becoming an even more complex machine as additional automation and remote access capabilities are added to grid operations. We continue to see system owners and operators as having the greatest expertise in responding to and mitigating threats and vulnerabilities to the grid.
- Authority for Standards Development: Electric cooperatives are concerned about any legislative proposals that would allow federal agencies to write and develop reliability standards. We support the current process where industry experts participate in the standards development process (through NERC), to write and develop mandatory and enforceable standards for a wide variety of threats and vulnerabilities. We support efforts aimed at improving or enhancing existing processes as needed to ensure effective and efficient results.
- Improving Information Flows and Protections: Voluntary cyber security information sharing between governments is critical in addressing threats against our national infrastructure – the majority of which is owned by the private sector. NRECA supports efforts aimed at increasing the amount of actionable intelligence electric cooperatives can access, and support legislation incentivizing voluntary cyber security information sharing between government and critical infrastructure that preserves existing partnerships, puts in place liability and FOIA protection while ensuring protection of private data.
- Emergency Cybersecurity Threat Authority: In the limited circumstances if the federal government has actionable intelligence about an imminent threat to the bulk electric system, we support DOE or FERC being permitted to direct the industry, including electric cooperatives, to take necessary, appropriate and limited emergency actions that will only remain in effect until the threat subsides or FERC approves related NERC reliability standards.
- Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act) Expansion: We support a clarification of the SAFETY Act – which currently provides liability protections to entities that sell or deploy cyber-security products, services, policies or procedures once they apply and are certified through the Department of Homeland Security for the protections – to add the word “cybersecurity” to each reference of anti-terrorism technologies.