Senators Introduce Legislation to Protect Electric Grid from Cyber Attack

The Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act received a hearing today in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Senator Gardner spoke about its importance.

“Colorado and states across the country need to secure our energy grids and be better prepared against cyber-attacks that threaten our critical infrastructure,” said Gardner. “I’ve worked with Senator Bennet on these bipartisan pieces of legislation because we both know the risk cyber-attacks pose to our country and the need for leadership on these issues. This legislation will help shore up our electric grid’s vulnerabilities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to gather more bipartisan support and see these bills signed into law.”

“We have our work cut out for us to protect the electric grid across rural and urban America, and these bills are a good starting point,” said Bennet. “We’ve worked with Coloradans and national energy organizations to ensure the legislation provides the technical assistance they need to safeguard their communities from cyberattacks.”

This bill authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide financial assistance to states to develop or revise a State Energy Security Plan. The bill outlines the contents of a State Security Plan, including the need for coordination and joint exercises with industry and federal stakeholders. It authorizes DOE $90 million annually for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022 to offer financial and technical assistance to states as they develop and update their plans.

A State Energy Security Plan will assess a state’s existing circumstances and propose methods to strengthen the ability of a state to:

  • Secure the energy infrastructure of the State against all physical and cybersecurity threats;
  • Mitigate the risk of energy supply disruptions to the state and enhance response to, and recovery from energy disruptions; and
  • Ensure the state has a reliable, secure, and resilient energy infrastructure.

The legislation would authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide physical and cyber security assistance to electric utilities where the Secretary has substantial concerns and electric utilities with fewer available resources due to size or region, and submit a report addressing physical and cyber security vulnerabilities in electricity distribution systems. Support from DOE would include providing tools for self-assessment, assisting with threat assessment and training, and increasing the sharing of best practices and data collection.

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