Reliability

Draft regs to beef up grid security not strict enough: Critics

Source: 
The Wall Street Journal

Critics complain that proposals to increase security of the nation’s power grid, drafted by the industry in the wake of an attack on a California substation last year, won’t do enough to stop anyone intent on sabotage, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Regulators: No interruption after Conn. utilities hacked

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Electric, natural gas and major water companies and regional distribution systems in Connecticut have been penetrated by hackers and other cyber attackers, but defenses have prevented interruption, state utility regulators said Monday in their first report on cyber security.

Security challenges are constantly evolving and "becoming more sophisticated and nefarious" and the ability of utilities to detect and stop penetration must constantly improve, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said in its report to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

WH official dismisses cascading blackout scenario as 'next to impossible'

Source: 
E&E

Rand Beers, White House deputy assistant for homeland security, says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report that warns that an attack on a few substations could end up causing wide-ranging blackouts was based on “extraordinarily narrow” assumptions, and the chance of it occurring is “next to impossible,” E&E reports.

Energy Guardian

FERC will improve handling of grid vulnerability info, LaFleur vows

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shared sensitive information about its modeling of critical electricity infrastructure with outsiders but sought to do so within its regulations, Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur asserted to senators on Thursday.

The disclosure of that information and details of a sniper attack last year on a substation in Metcalf, Calif., in news reports has roiled FERC officials and lawmakers, who fear it could provide a guide to terrorists in disabling the electricity grid. At a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, LaFleur sought to assure senators that FERC was moving to improve its handling of such information in the future. 

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Murkowski backs LaFleur over FERC mishandling of sensitive grid info

The ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee late Wednesday defended the acting head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over the handling of sensitive grid vulnerability information that made its way into news reports.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement that the FERC information in question was created and distributed in presentations to federal agencies and industry before Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur took the top post last fall.

Senate Energy hearing on grid reliability

Washington, April 10, 2014, 9:30 am

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, "Keeping the lights on — Are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the US electric grid?" FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur, Commissioner Philip D. Moeller among witnesses.

Vestas

Grid security information mishandled by FERC, Energy IG finds

The Energy Department's internal watchdog on Wednesday alerted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it may have inappropriately distributed information about the electricity grid that should have been classified.

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman issued a management alert to FERC based on his ongoing review into queries from the commission and senators about the origin of news reports about a sniper attack on a California substation last year.

FERC failed to classify grid vulnerability information, DOE IG finds

The Energy Department's internal watchdog on Wednesday alerted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it may have inappropriately distributed information about the electricity grid that should have been classified.

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman issued a management alert to FERC based on his ongoing review into queries from the commission and senators about the origin of news reports about a sniper attack on a California substation last year and a FERC analysis that highlighted grid vulnerabilities to a coordinated attack on a handful of critical facilities.

Friedman said at least one presentation on the grid created by commission staffers should have been classified at the time of its creation, and may "have been provided to both Federal and industry officials in unclassified settings."

He concluded the commission may lack adequate controls for "identifying and handling classified national security information," and recommended that Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur move to provide "maximum protection" of the information referred to in his alert.

LaFleur said in a statement that she was following Friedman's recommendations and that FERC was cooperating with his review.

Insurance broker warns energy companies lack cover for cyber attacks

Source: 
Reuters

Energy companies could face a "time bomb" of costly cyber attacks unless they move to insure against them as well as beefing up their computer defenses, reinsurance broker Willis warned in its annual report on the sector, according to Reuters.

Correction to grid security hearing story

Our preview Tuesday morning of this week's grid security hearing incorrectly reported that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Acting Chairman Cheryl LeFleur had written to lawmakers that during briefings on grid security, FERC shared with utilities and industry groups grid modeling information that identified sites critical to reliability.

The letter did not refer to sharing the information, and the modeling was not shared with industry in the briefings.

The corrected version of the story can be seen here.

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