Key Considerations for the Department of Energy on Defending the Bulk Power Grid

Key Considerations for the Department of Energy on Defending the Bulk Power Grid
On January 20, President Joseph Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13990 to help protect U.S. bulk power organizations. This Order enacted a 90-day suspension of E.O. 13920 which was set by the previous administration. The new executive order empowered the Secretary of Energy (“Secretary”) to publish new criteria around pre-qualifying vendors of electric equipment, as well as to devise rules for helping U.S. entities replace electric devices at risk of sabotage. With those functions suspended, E.O. 13990 directed the Secretary and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to consider “that a replacement order be issued.” The Department of Energy (DOE) took up this command by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to electric utilities, government agencies, and other stakeholders on how to best secure the bulk power grid.Why the RFI Is NecessaryThe electric power system is vital to the nation’s energy security. It supports national defense, emergency services, critical infrastructure, and the economy. Together, these functions make it essential for bulk power organizations to ensure the availability and reliability of their systems and equipment. The changing nature of electric entities’ environments has made security a challenge, especially since many critical national infrastructure (CNI) organizations are now undergoing digital transformations. This means they are oftentimes connecting their operational technology (OT) assets to their information technology (IT) assets for the purpose of maximizing industrial operations. The problem is that many of those OT assets are older, legacy systems that lack the necessary security measures to stand up to today’s IT security threats. As a result, di ..