Cybersecurity and Physical Security

House passes grid security legislation supported by APPA, other groups

The House on Sept. 29 passed four grid security-related bills. Prior to the vote, the American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association voiced collective support for full House consideration of three House Energy and Commerce Committee-passed bills.

The three bills that APPA, EEI and NRECA supported for House consideration are:

The Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act (H.R. 359)

Sponsored by Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), the bill would direct the Department of Energy (DOE) to create and implement a program to enhance the physical and cyber security of electric utilities.

The bill is modeled upon an existing, successful public-private partnership funded by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program (CEDS) between the department, APPA, and NRECA to bring greater resources, training, and tools for cyber and physical security to small- and medium-sized electric utilities.

The Cyber Sense Act of 2020 (H.R. 360)

 Sponsored by Representatives Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), the bill would direct DOE to establish a voluntary program to test the cybersecurity of products and technologies intended for use in the bulk-power system.

The Energy Emergency Leadership Act (H.R.  362)

Sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Tim Walberg (R-MI), this bill would require the Secretary of Energy to assign energy emergency and energy security functions to an assistant secretary, including responsibilities with respect to infrastructure and cybersecurity.

The bill is intended to clarify and codify the function of DOE’s CESER, which was established by former DOE Secretary Rick Perry in 2018.

APPA, EEI and NRECA sent letter on Sept. 28

“Protecting and maintaining electric sector security and reliability is a top priority for our associations and our members,” the trade groups wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA).

“To keep up with evolving threats, the industry welcomes close coordination with government partners. The bills scheduled for consideration by the House this week are aimed at strengthening our shared responsibility to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure,” the letter said.

“We are particularly supportive of H.R. 359 and H.R. 362,” the trade groups noted.

The DOE recently announced $12 million in cooperative agreements with APPA and the NRECA to develop and deploy solutions to cyber and cyber-physical threats.

House also passed fourth bill

The House also passed the Grid Security Research and Development Act (H.R. 5760).

Sponsored by Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA) and Randy Weber (R-TX), the bill would authorize an interagency research and development program to advance electric grid cybersecurity, physical security, and resiliency.

Specifically, it would authorize cybersecurity test beds, education and workforce training programs, and the development of guidance documents for research, development, and demonstration activities.

The bill would authorize $150 million for these programs and efforts in fiscal year (FY) 2021, an amount that would rise each year until it reaches $182 million for FY 2025.

APPA provided extensive feedback and comments on the bill to ensure that public power utilities are eligible to participate in programs if they wish, participation is voluntary, and R&D is done in consultation with the electric utility industry.