The House of Representatives on September 29 unanimously passed three bills aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity of the U.S. electric grid and other energy infrastructure. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Bipartisan bills: The Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act (H.R. 359), introduced by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., Calif.) and cosponsored by Rep. Bob Latta (R., Ohio), would direct the Department of Energy to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships to address security risks of electric utilities.
The Cyber Sense Act of 2020 (H.R. 360), introduced by Latta and cosponsored by McNerney, would require the DOE to test the cybersecurity of products and technologies intended for use in the bulk power system.
The Energy Emergency Leadership Act (H.R. 362), introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.) and cosponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.), would create a new DOE assistant secretary position with jurisdiction over all energy emergency and energy security functions related to energy supply, infrastructure, and cybersecurity.
What they’re saying: Rush and Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a joint statement: “Right now, our aging electric grid is uniquely vulnerable to cyberattack, putting our communities at risk of being disconnected by bad actors or foreign governments seeking to sow chaos. Together, this legislation works to dramatically improve our cybersecurity and our readiness to combat potential attacks. These important bills will foster a much more reliable, safe, and cybersecure energy sector, and we’re proud that they passed today with such bipartisan support.”
In a separate statement, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.), and Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of stopping supply chain threats, including ensuring the security of our electric grid. From electricity to Wi-Fi, a secure, reliable grid is vital to all Americans. We thank our House colleagues for supporting three bipartisan bills that will bolster our energy security and keep our grid safe from cyberattacks, and we urge our Senate colleagues to take swift action to keep our electric grid safe and running.”