Powering Strong Communities

DOE awards $12 million to APPA, NRECA for cybersecurity solutions

The Department of Energy has announced $12 million in cooperative agreements with the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to develop and deploy solutions to cyber and cyber-physical threats.

The cooperative agreement funding, which comes through the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), allocates $6 million to each organization.

APPA will work alongside CESER’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems division, which carries out CESER’s research and development function, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which will develop and demonstrate the final cyber and cyber-physical solutions that are slated to be deployed to utilities by 2023.

“Grid security is a journey, not a destination,” said APPA President and CEO Joy Ditto. “This funding from DOE-CESER will provide us with critical resources to continue to navigate this journey. Developing and enhancing tools to assist public power and co-ops in protecting critical infrastructure will ultimately benefit the entire industry.”

Solutions developed and deployed under this cooperative agreement will help provide utilities with hardware, firmware and/or software to protect the key operational technology components that enable the safe control of the physical systems that deliver electric power.

According to a press release from CESER, “The solutions will detect and respond to adversarial activity through community-led information sharing; use artificial intelligence to reduce false positives in threat detection; provide advanced analytics for pinpointing when and where a system was compromised; increase system resilience, and employ autonomous defense at remote endpoints.”

“Our goal here is to utilize our unique capability as a national convener of public power utilities, working with our members and other organizations, to help develop, demonstrate, and deploy cybersecurity solutions,” Alex Hofmann, APPA’s vice president of technical and operations services, said.

CESER was established in February 2018 with $96 million in funding aimed at bolstering the DOE's cybersecurity and energy security efforts.

This cooperative agreement, which is focused on defense of operational technology, is separate from, but builds on, a cooperative agreement APPA entered into with the DOE in 2016 to develop a culture of cybersecurity within public power. That partnership, called Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems, or CEDS, resulted in several public power-specific resources, including the Public Power Cybersecurity Scorecard, the Public Power Cybersecurity Roadmap and the Public Power Incidence Response Playbook.

Utilities can find additional information and resources on the CEDS program on our website.