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Hayden, Hebert, Tierney to lead cybersecurity initiative, develop recommendations for policymakers to protect electric grid

From the May 28, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published May 28, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant
A new Electric Grid Cyber Security Initiative established by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, will develop recommendations for policymakers on how government agencies and the private sector could collaborate to protect the North American electric grid from cyber attacks. 

The effort will be led by three co-chairs: General (Ret.) Michal Hayden, principal at the Chertoff Group and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency; Curt Hébert, partner at the Brunini law firm and former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman; and Susan Tierney, managing principal at Analysis Group and former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Energy.

"The threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure are very real, and we are launching this initiative to ensure our cybersecurity policies stay ahead of the threats," said Hayden. "We will look at the appropriate roles for the various federal and state government actors to ensure security of the grid, as well as ongoing industry-led efforts to address cybersecurity issues. We will also explore ways to ensure that the response of government and industry is swift and coordinated if there is an attack."

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "already has standard-setting authority through the North American Electric Reliability Corp. for large portions of the electric grid, but its authority doesn’t cover local distribution systems, which are regulated by states," said Hébert. "One key question is whether additional mandatory standards are necessary or whether gaps can be filled through a system of voluntary standards and incentives."

"The electric power sector has already made important progress in addressing cyber security," said Tierney. "Given how important electric system reliability is to the nation’s economy, along with its interdependence with other sectors, such as telecommunications and natural gas pipelines, the electric system makes an interesting case study for cybersecurity governance. There are important regulatory and other policy questions related to who invests in and pays for electric grid cybersecurity protections."

Through the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy and Homeland Security Projects, the co-chairs will release a white paper in the fall with their recommendations. They plan to hold a public workshop this summer to explore the topic. 



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