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Latta Questions DOE Official on Grid Cybersecurity at E&C Hearing

Congressman Latta has introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure

Washington, September 27, 2018 | Drew Griffin (202-225-6405)
Today, Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) questioned the Department of Energy (DOE) official charged with heading up grid cybersecurity efforts about what is being done to modernize and upgrade the nation’s energy infrastructure at an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy hearing entitled, “DOE Modernization: The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.” Latta questioned DOE Assistant Secretary Karen Evans about how voluntary programs that the private sector and DOE can participate in could help prevent cyberattacks.
Latta said, “You might be aware that I chair the Grid Innovation Caucus with my good friend, Mr. McNerney, and we have worked on several pieces of legislation together. I’d like to highlight one in particular, which is the Cyber Sense Act. This legislation requires the Department of Energy to establish a voluntary Cyber Sense program to identify and promote cyber-secure products intended for use in the bulk-power system. The bulk-power system includes facilities and control systems necessary for operating an interconnected electric energy transmission network. Could you talk about work you are already doing on this front and how voluntary programs like this one can help open lines of communications between the private sector and the DOE? ”
Watch Latta’s questions here.
Evans stated that it was important to have these conversations and make information actionable for those in the private sector. She also said that DOE has just begun a pilot program that would seek to improve communications between DOE and the private sector.
In addition, Latta asked about DOE’s efforts as the lead sector-specific agency for cybersecurity in the energy sector, a provision he authored that was included in the FAST Act of 2015.
The Energy and Commerce Committee has already passed two bills Latta has worked on with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) to improve grid infrastructure. H.R. 5239, the Cyber Sense Act, would create a voluntary Department of Energy ‘Cyber Sense’ program that would test the cyber security of products and technologies for use in the bulk-power system. It would require the Secretary of Energy to keep a related database on the products. This would aid electric utilities that are evaluating products and their potential to cause harm to the electric grid.
H.R. 5240 directs DOE to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships in order to improve cybersecurity of electric utilities. The legislation would improve sharing of best practices and data collection, along with providing training and technical assistance to electric utilities in order to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks.
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