Congressmen Bob Latta (R-OH5) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA9) recently introduced two pieces of bipartisan legislation to improve our nation’s grid security and resiliency. The Cyber Sense Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act will both work to bolster the United States’ electric infrastructure by encouraging coordination between the Department of Energy (DOE) and electric utilities.
The Cyber Sense Act would create a voluntary DOE “Cyber Sense” program that would identify and promote cyber-secure products for use in the bulk-power system. The bill also establishes a testing process for the products along with a reporting process of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 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. This would aid electric utilities that are evaluating products and their potential to cause harm to the electric grid.
The Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act 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.
“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.” said Latta. “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. As leaders of the Grid Innovation Caucus, I am proud Congressman McNerney and I are leading this effort to safeguard our aging grid so we can ensure our nation’s electric infrastructure is protected from bad actors.”
“The electric grid is the backbone of our economy and essential to almost everything in our lives,” said McNerney. “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. I thank Congressman Latta for his partnership and look forward to continuing to work to ensure a more secure and resilient grid.”
McNerney and Latta co-chair the Grid Innovation Caucus, which was founded to provide a forum for discussing solutions to the many challenges facing the grid, and to educate Members of Congress and staff about the importance of the electric grid with relation to the economy, energy security, and advanced technologies being utilized to enhance grid capabilities. Latta and McNerney introduced identical legislation in the previous Congress. Both bills passed the House unanimously in the 116th Congress.