Grid cybersecurity bill reintroduced in Senate

May 4, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) last week reintroduced legislation from 2019 to enhance the security of the U.S. electric grid. According to Murkowski, the Protecting Resources on the Electric Grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act would enhance electric grid security by incentivizing electric utilities to make cybersecurity investments.

Introduced in the Senate on April 28 as S. 1400, the bill would also establish a Department of Energy grant and technical assistance program to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology for utilities that are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Cosponsors of the PROTECT Act include Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Jim Risch (R., Idaho), Angus King (I., Maine), and Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.).

A word from the sponsors: “The threat of cyberattacks by foreign adversaries and other sophisticated entities is real and growing, and COVID-19 has not helped reduce the threat of cyberattacks on America’s networks, including our energy infrastructure,” Murkowski said.

Sen. Manchin added, “The reliability and resilience of our electric grid goes hand in hand with the economic and national security of the United States, so it’s critical that we’re two steps ahead in planning for unexpected events and threats. The PROTECT Act would create incentives for utilities to enhance their cybersecurity efforts and increase their resilience to attacks. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this common sense, bipartisan legislation to ensure we’re keeping our grid—and our nation—safe.”

Details: Key provisions of the bill include:

■ Directing FERC to issue a rulemaking on rate incentives for advanced cybersecurity technology.

■ Establishing a grant and technical assistance program at the DOE to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology on the electric systems of utilities that are not regulated by FERC. Examples include cooperatives and municipal utilities, as well as small investor-owned utilities that sell less than 4 million megawatt-hours of electricity per year.

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