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LaFleur, APPA, others decry Wall Street Journal article on grid sabotage


From the March 14, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published March 14, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

The Wall Street Journal crossed the line "from transparency to irresponsibility" with a March 12 article entitled, "U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack," Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said. The newspaper’s publication of sensitive information about the grid "gives those who would do us harm a roadmap to achieve malicious designs," LaFleur said. "The American people deserve better." Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she has "grave concerns about the dangerous and irresponsible release of information apparently based upon a single analysis of potential vulnerabilities of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure." She added that "this type of irresponsible leak sensationalizing a single study seriously undermines" efforts to maintain and protect the grid.

APPA said it agreed with LaFleur’s comments and is disappointed that the Journal "would highlight sensitive information that could put the American public, utility employees, and utility facilities at risk." APPA and its members "are serious about protecting the grid against evolving threats" and "are collectively and continually formulating and revising measures to protect critical assets, making the grid more resilient and robust," the association said.

"Publicly discussing specific vulnerabilities of critical grid assets raises serious national security concerns and undermines the substantial, ongoing work that NERC, industry and government are doing to strengthen our grid against potential cyber and physical security attacks," the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said. "Articles like this one do nothing to improve security, rather they jeopardize it."

The Journal article said a FERC analysis "indicates that knocking out nine ... key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months." The story added that some federal officials "said the conclusions might overstate the grid's vulnerability." Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary David Ortiz told the newspaper that the grid is resilient and disabling many locations would be difficult. FERC’s findings "nevertheless had value ‘as a way of starting a conversation on physical security,’" Ortiz told the Journal

 

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