WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2018 – An important stride to ensure the resiliency of the electric grid in the event of a catastrophic attack has now been taken by the U.S. Department of Energy.  President Trump’s 2018 budget includes $96 million to establish the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER).

According to an announcement late yesterday by the Department of Energy, the activities of CESER will include early-stage research and development at national laboratories to develop the next generation of cybersecurity control systems, components, and devices including a greater ability to share time-critical data with industry to detect, prevent, and recover from cyber events.

“We laud Energy Secretary Rick Perry for recognizing the critical and urgent importance of making our electric grid more resilient,” said Jim Cunningham, executive director of Protect Our Power, an advocacy group founded to help ensure the grid is made as secure as possible against all threats. “It’s a positive first step for the DOE and the industry to begin tackling the enormous task of protecting our electric infrastructure from increasingly complex cyber and physical threats.”

A poll conducted last year by Protect Our Power indicated that nearly 61 percent of Americans believe the electric grid is vulnerable to a physical or cyber attack.

“The real work starts now,” said Cunningham. “Securing our grid will be complex and expensive. This initiative must now ensure we improve current security standards and highlight the best practices the industry currently uses successfully.”

The total impact to the U.S. economy of an extreme cyber attack on the electric grid could approach $1 trillion, according to a 2015 Lloyd’s of London report. A 2017 report on electric grid resilience from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warns that a major outage caused by a physical or cyber attack is “a serious and growing risk.”

“In light of the magnitude and scope of a potential attack, the creation of the energy cybersecurity office helps illuminate the long path for developing and implementing a comprehensive resiliency plan,” said Suedeen Kelly, Protect Our Power’s regulatory counsel and former commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Media Contact
John Kyte, Protect our Power