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Physical Security of Electric Grid on FERC’s Radar

Linda Hardesty

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop standards that address physical security risks and vulnerabilities of the nation’s power grid.

FERC’s directive comes after Jon Wellinghoff, a former FERC chairman, told the Wall Street Journal he was concerned that the nation’s electric-grid isn’t adequately protected against attacks.

“Because the grid is so critical to all aspects of our society and economy, protecting its reliability and resilience is a core responsibility of everyone who works in the electric industry,” said FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur. “Today’s order enhances the grid’s resilience by requiring physical security for the facilities most critical to the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System. The reliability standards directed by today’s order require owners and operators of the Bulk-Power System to take at least three steps to protect physical security. First, owners and operators must perform a risk assessment of their system to identify facilities that, if rendered inoperable or damaged, could have a critical impact on the operation of the interconnection through instability, uncontrolled separation, or cascading failures of the Bulk-Power System. Second, owners and operators of critical facilities must evaluate potential threats and vulnerabilities to those facilities. Finally, owners and operators must develop and implement a security plan to address potential threats and vulnerabilities.”

NERC has 90 days to submit the proposed standards.



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