How Do Presidential Candidates Plan to Protect the Electric Grid?

By Steve Kerekes, Communications Director, Protect Our Power

The first presidential debate will be an important moment in defining the positions of the candidates on issues that are critical to the nation.  One issue, in particular, cuts across the political spectrum and affects all Americans directly – the security and integrity of our electric grid, upon which all other components of our infrastructure depend for power.

Protect Our Power believes the candidates should be asked about their plans to protect the nation’s electricity supply against potential disasters, natural and manmade, and especially against cyberattacks. Today, government agencies and utility companies report that cyberattack attempts on the grid number in the hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, on a daily basis.

It is clear to our detractors that without electricity our national defense, our economy and our way of life will come to a standstill.  Picture a United States in which phones, the internet and television cease to operate; cars, trucks, trains and airplanes are idled because fuel pumps and charging stations are disabled; banks and ATMS are inoperable; home heating and air conditioning systems no longer work; food and clean water supplies dwindle, and hospitals, first responders, and other emergency services are largely unavailable.

As the debates commence, the candidates for president and vice president should be asked:

  1. What is your plan to enhance the security of the U.S. electric grid, particularly with regard to cybersecurity?
  2. Many experts consider the United States to be on a war footing with certain nation-states that continuously conduct cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure, including the electric sector. How should the United States counter this threat to national security?
  3. What do you see as the most expeditious and effective means to incentivize smaller electric utilities, public power entities and rural electric cooperatives to invest in cybersecurity?
  4. What steps would your Administration take to enhance the cybersecurity of the electric sector’s supply chain?
  5. Do you believe that Congress should enact infrastructure legislation that includes making the U.S. electric grid more resilient against cyberattacks?
  6. The Congressionally-appointed Cyberspace Solarium Commission has recommended that a national cybersecurity director be appointed and confirmed by the Senate to coordinate cybersecurity policy across the federal government. Do you favor or oppose this recommendation? Why?

The stakes are high. We fail to protect our critical infrastructure at our own peril. The candidates running for our nation’s highest elected offices need to be engaged on these issues.

Steve Kerekes

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