Energy Department to propose Critical Electric Infrastructure Information rule

Published on October 31, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Monday the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) that will introduce administrative procedures to implement DOE’s designation authority for Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII).

“A strong and resilient power grid is vital to America’s security, economy, and modern way of life,” Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said. “The proposed CEII rule is a vital step forward in protecting the nation’s energy critical infrastructure and ensuring a reliable and resilient flow of energy to America’s communities and businesses.”

CEII is non-classified national security information about a system or asset of the bulk-power system, that if destroyed or incapacitated, would negatively affect the national security, economic security, public health or safety or any combination of such effects. A CEII designation exempts the submitted information about physical and virtual assets of the bulk-power system from public release under the Freedom of Information Act.

DOE noted that, as a general principle, it does not intend to designate information as CEII if it has been made publicly available by of owner or generator of the CEII previously.

The proposed rule would establish a set of procedures by which the Secretary of Energy would designate, protect and share CEII and would establish provisions regarding the type of information that DOE would designate as CEII. The procedures describe marking protocols for physical and electronic materials to indicate that they are to be treated as CEII.

The proposed rule, DOE said, is intended to harmonize DOE’s CEII designation procedures with those existing regulations used by the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) to carry out its shared CEII authority.

The proposed procedures also provide for DOE coordination with other federal agencies to support mutual understanding and implementation among federal information classification programs as it may relate to CEII. DOE also proposed a process for early coordination with those submitters of potential CEII-designated materials to facilitate the voluntary sharing of CEII with, between and by federal and non-federal entities as appropriate.

The 60-day public comment period for the NOPR will close on Dec. 31.