Energy Dept. report warns of ‘changing threat environment’ for US electricity grid

A report from the Department of Energy warns that immediate action is required to protect the United States’ electrical grid from ever-evolving threats. I’m sure the incoming administration will get right on that.

Released Friday, this comprehensive report outlines the vulnerabilities brought on by rapidly changing technology. While internet-enabled tech helps the grid run more efficiently, it also leaves it vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Via The Hill:

“On the one side there’s the value creation, and on the other side, there is the security aspects of making sure that we benefit from the capabilities that we are being offered through this convergence of electricity and information, in ways that we can protect those values,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a Capitol Hill briefing Friday morning on the report.

The report notes that rural areas are especially vulnerable, which, given the interlocking nature of the grid, could pose a problem for the whole system.

Via The Washington Post:

“There’s the weak-link issue for the whole system,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview to highlight the report. “The reality is, for a lot of rural, smaller utilities, it’s a very difficult job to have the kind of expertise that will be needed in terms of cyber, so we suggest for example, grant programs to help with training, to help with analytical capacity in these situations.”

Moniz says a successful attack on the electrical grid could have “enormous” consequences for the US economy.

To close the gaps, the report makes a number of recommendations including grant programs to help states modernize security systems and reduce electrical demands, diversification of our power sources, and amending the Federal Power Act so the Department of Energy has the ability to issue a “grid-security emergency order.” These recommendations are highly actionable; the last installment was released in November and has already seen 21 of its 63 recommendations “fully or partially reflected in Federal law.” Moniz said in an interview that he hopes the incoming administration will “take ownership of this, and keep it going.”

Unfortunately, the incoming Secretary of Energy is Rick Perry, who previously said he wanted to abolish the department, once he could remember what it was called, and the PEOTUS seems more interested in purging the D of E of people who believe in climate change than protecting our nation’s power sources. I know it’s generally used as a metaphor, but it’s possible Trump and Perry will plunge us into a literal dark age, should they dismiss this report as a bunch of gay Obama fear mongering.

[Photo: iStock]