Senators encourage DOE to engage with developers, providers in search for ways to protect bulk-power system

Published on July 20, 2020 by Chris Galford

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking information from the energy industry on best practices for identifying and alleviating risks to the bulk-power system. Still, U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jim Risch (R-ID) are encouraging it to specifically engage with vendors and manufacturers.

An Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump in May — Securing the United States Bulk-Power System — authorized U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to work with Federal partners and the larger industry to secure the system against foreign threats. Such threats, the EO declared, represent a national emergency. The department expects to build on its current request for information with a notice of proposed rulemaking.

While the senators commended this effort and said it would ensure safe and secure supply chains for critical infrastructure, they wanted to make certain the actual creators of grid equipment were included in ongoing discussions.

“We want to ensure that the vendors and manufacturers that will build and deliver the very grid equipment the Executive Order addresses are engaged with and utilized for their valuable knowledge and experience,” the senators wrote in a letter to Brouillette. “We request that the Department of Energy actively engage these stakeholders during the development of rulemakings related to this Executive Order and through the efforts of the Task Force.”

The EO called for several specific things, including the creation of a Task Force on Federal Energy Infrastructure Procurement Policies Related to National Security, which will coordinate acquisition of energy infrastructure and the sharing of risk information and risk management practices. It also prohibited using bulk-power system electric equipment from foreign adversaries or from those that might cause risk to national security. Building on that, it also sought identification of such equipment already in use.

“We also request that the comments of vendors and manufacturers that respond to the Department’s Request For Information be given full consideration and weight during your review,” the senators said. “Lastly, we ask that you report back to us with what companies you have engaged with and how by the implementation deadline for this Executive Order. “