Security and Resilience (Cyber and Physical)

New DOE office to focus on cybersecurity, infrastructure

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is establishing a new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response at the Department of Energy and $96 million in funding for the office was included in President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request to bolster DOE's efforts in cybersecurity and energy security.

The new office will be led by an Assistant Secretary who will focus on energy infrastructure security, support the expanded national security responsibilities assigned to the DOE and report to the Under Secretary of Energy, the DOE said on Feb. 14.

The creation of the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response will elevate the DOE’s focus on energy infrastructure protection and will enable more coordinated preparedness and response to natural and man-made threats, the DOE said.

“Public power stands ready to engage with the new office and continue the public/private partnership we have already established with the federal government,” said Michael Hyland, senior vice-president for engineering services at the American Public Power Association. “Cybersecurity remains a top priority for public power utilities,” Hyland said.

An example of how the power sector already engages with the federal government on cybersecurity and infrastructure issues is the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC).

The ESCC serves as the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power industry and is comprised of the CEOs that represent all segments of the industry, including investor-owned electric companies, electric cooperatives, and public power utilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Kevin Wailes, administrator and CEO of Lincoln Electric System, serves as co-chair of the ESCC, while Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the Association, serves on the ESCC steering committee.

Public power participated in GridEx, which took place at the end of 2017 and is an exercise designed for utilities to exercise their response and recovery to cyber and physical security threats in a simulated environment.

The ESCC interacts with numerous federal government agencies including DOE, DHS, FBI and the White House National Security Council. “Having a dedicated department like CESER at DOE will give the industry a focal point on cybersecurity issues,” Hyland said.