WASHINGTON, July 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The electric grid resilience advocacy organization, Protect Our Power, welcomed the introduction in Congress today of two legislative proposals aimed at strengthening the U.S. electric grid against physical and cyber threats.
The Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act was introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). The Colorado senators also introduced the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act.
"Protect Our Power applauds Senators Gardner and Bennet for their leadership on this vital national security issue," said former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, an advisor to Protect Our Power. "The threat posed by nation-states probing for ways to cripple our critical infrastructure is real, it is growing, and it is constant. Our electric grid, in particular, is highly vulnerable to attack."
Richard Mroz, Protect Our Power's senior advisor for state and government relations and the former chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Committee at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said the proposed legislation addresses some of the key deficiencies identified in the first phase of a grid resiliency study that the Vermont Law School is conducting for Protect for Power.
That initial report, released in April, identified a pressing need for technical and financial assistance to enhance cybersecurity, particularly at smaller investor-owned utilities, public power authorities and rural electric cooperatives.
The State Energy Security Planning legislation provides federal financial assistance to enhance state-level energy security plans designed to protect energy infrastructure, including the electric grid, against physical and cyber security threats. It authorizes the Department of Energy $90 million annually for fiscal years 2018-2022 to offer financial and technical assistance to states as they develop and update their plans.
The Public-Private Partnerships legislation authorizes DOE to provide physical and cyber security assistance to electric utilities where the Secretary of Energy has substantial concerns and electric utilities have fewer available resources due to size or region.
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.
"Protect Our Power calls on members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support this important legislation and move it expeditiously into law," Mroz said. "The consequences of losing large swaths of our grid for an extended time period would be devastating to our economy and our citizenry. Hospitals, financial institutions, water treatment plants, grocery stores and countless other entities at the core of our critical infrastructure rely on electricity around the clock."
Protect Our Power is a not-for-profit organization designed to build a consensus among key stakeholders, decision-makers and public policy influencers to implement a coordinated and adequately funded effort to make the nation's electric grid more resilient and resistant to all external threats. For more information about Protect Our Power, visit www.protectourpower.org.
SOURCE Protect Our Power