Bill seeks to bolster utility cybersecurity

Published on September 30, 2019 by Douglas Clark

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Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-WV), James Risch (R-ID), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced last week a bill designed to help strengthen the nation’s electric grid.

The Protecting Resources On The Electric grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to incentivize cybersecurity investments by electric utilities.

The measure also establishes a grant and technical assistance program for advanced cybersecurity technology at the Department of Energy (DOE).

“Protecting our nation’s electric grid from cyber threats is uniquely critical, and the consequences of a successful cyber-incursion would be widespread and potentially devastating,” Murkowski said. “We know the threat of cyberattacks by our foreign adversaries and other sophisticated entities is real and growing. Our bill takes steps to ensure utilities across our country are able to continue investing in advanced, cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies while also strengthening the partnership between private industry and the federal government.”

Key provisions of the bill include directing FERC to issue a rulemaking on rate incentives for advanced cybersecurity technology and establish a grant program at DOE for utilities that are not regulated by FERC to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology.

“It’s no secret that cybersecurity threats are ever-evolving and our electric grid remains a top target,” Manchin said. “The PROTECT Act would create additional incentives for utilities to enhance their cybersecurity efforts and increase their resilience to attacks. It’s past time we take common-sense steps like this one to bolster grid cybersecurity and I’m proud to cosponsor the PROTECT Act.”