Department of Energy Focuses on Cyber Security for the Nation’s Power Grid

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a key report detailing potential cyber threats to the nation’s electric grid. The report focuses on the need to build cyber security protections now—while technology advancements are being designed and built—rather than after they are put into widespread use. The way we produce, deliver, and use electricity in Michigan is continually changing and improving; it’s important for all of us to understand both the rewards and the potential risks of enhanced grid technologies that allow us to power our homes and businesses in smarter ways.

The Benefits of an Enhanced Grid

An enhanced power grid is built on smarter, more integrated technology that enables the various components of the system to work together seamlessly and deliver information about how the system is performing faster and more accurately. These advanced technologies:

Security Objectives to Help Meet New Challenges

Because advanced control systems employ sophisticated computer network technologies, they can be affected by cyber attacks. The control systems that manage our electric infrastructure are now increasingly connected to external networks, and rely on commercially available hardware and software.

These features significantly improve performance, reliability, and the ability to restore power after outages more quickly, but they also require that we employ smarter, more sophisticated security protections and protocols.

The DOE’s report highlights three main security objectives, which the Alliance for Michigan Power believes are crucial to Michigan’s energy future:

The benefits of enhanced grid technologies far outweigh the risks when it comes to ensuring energy remains reliable, affordable, and fairly priced, as well as helping Michiganders optimize their energy use and minimize impacts on our environment and natural resources.

AMP believes the DOE’s strategy represents a step in the right direction for Michigan and the nation as a whole: we must work to understand and plan for potential threats so the right protections are designed into the system from the outset. Energy policies that foster innovation and encourage our local energy providers to invest in advanced technologies will ensure we can reap the full benefits of an enhanced power grid.

As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz explained in the Department’s news release (emphasis added), “As we deploy advanced technologies to make the U.S. power grid more reliable and resilient, we must simultaneously advance cyber security protections. The cyber security guidance released today will help industry further strengthen these technologies and protect our critical energy infrastructure.