Reps. Latta, McNerney introduce bills to improve grid security

Published on May 06, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

© Shutterstock

U.S. Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA) are sponsoring two bills that seek to improve grid security and resiliency.

The Cyber Sense Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act encourage coordination between the Department of Energy (DOE) and electric utilities to bolster grid security.

The Cyber Sense Act would create a voluntary DOE “Cyber Sense” program that would identify and promote cybersecure products in bulk-power systems. Further, it would establish a testing process for the products and a way to report cybersecurity vulnerabilities. In addition, it creates a database at the DOE to track products and help provide more information on cyber weaknesses for electric utilities and their potential to cause harm to the electric grid.

The Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act directs the DOE to facilitate public-private partnerships to improve the cybersecurity of electric utilities. Also, it would improve sharing of best practices and data collection, along with providing training and technical assistance to electric utilities to address cybersecurity risks.

“Recent cyber-attacks on U.S. institutions and businesses like SolarWinds prove that Congress needs to act to ensure our grid remains strong and resilient,” Latta said. “The Cyber Sense Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act will collaboratively build a relationship between the DOE and utilities to strengthen our security efforts and keep us safe from domestic and foreign attacks.”

McNerney and Latta co-chair the Grid Innovation Caucus, which was created to provide a forum for discussing solutions to the challenges facing the grid.

“The electric grid is the backbone of our economy and essential to almost everything in our lives,” McNerney said. “It’s imperative that we invest in grid modernization and security and address any vulnerable component or weakness that poses a threat to our physical and national security. That’s why Congressman Latta and I launched the Grid Innovation Caucus, and the result is these two critical pieces of legislation. Our bills are the result of the work we have done to date and will strengthen the electric utility system while building partnerships between DOE and industry.”