Security and Resilience (Cyber and Physical)

FERC Directs NERC to Assess Effectiveness of Physical Security Reliability Standard

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Dec. 15 issued an order directing the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to submit a report to the Commission analyzing the effectiveness of the existing NERC reliability standard addressing physical security of the bulk power system.

At its monthly open meeting, FERC directed NERC to conduct a study evaluating the need for improvements to Reliability Standard CIP-014-3, which pertains to physical security for the electric grid.

FERC staff noted that in recent months, there has been an increase in reports of physical attacks on electric substations that in some incidents have resulted in thousands of customer outages. In early December, Duke Energy responded to power outages caused by vandalism against utility equipment in North Carolina.

In its order, FERC requires NERC to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the physical security reliability standard that considers, but is not limited to, the potential risks highlighted by recent events. 

Specifically, the order directed NERC to conduct a study evaluating:

  • The adequacy of the applicability criteria set forth in the standard;
  • The adequacy of the required risk assessment set forth in the standard; and
  • Whether a minimum level of physical security protections should be required for all bulk-power system transmission stations and substations and primary control centers. 

The report is due 120 days from issuance of the order.