DOE Awards NRECA $5 Million to Continue Grid Cybersecurity Work

U.S. Department of Energy funding is bolstering NRECA’s efforts to help secure the nation’s energy grid. (Photo By: MF3d/Getty Images)

NRECA is receiving $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue its work in developing and deploying sophisticated cybersecurity tools and tactics for the electric utility industry.

The funds come from the Electricity Subsector Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative following the administration’s 100-day action plan to secure the U.S. energy grid.

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said the Oct. 27 announcement from DOE underscores how government partnerships, information sharing, technology development and coordination with the industry “are essential to strengthening electric sector cyber defenses.”

“Electric co-ops are appreciative of this funding that will help support the deployment of advanced technologies to stay ahead of cyber threats,” he said.

NRECA has partnered with DOE on several cybersecurity projects, including Essence 2.0, a tool that instantly alerts utilities of possible network intrusions, allowing administrators to lock out bad actors and warn other grid operators in real time.

“Real-time visibility into what’s happening across several different systems is important to strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities and identify attacks in their infancy,” Matheson said.

NRECA also partnered with DOE on the Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities (RC3) program, which offers co-ops cybersecurity training, risk assessments, tabletop exercises, workshops and more.

“DOE’s trusted partnerships across the electricity complex are integral to ensuring and maintaining a reliable flow of energy across the country,” said Puesh Kumar, acting principal deputy assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response.

“As we continue supporting the 100-day plan and taking action to protect and defend our critical infrastructure, we want to gain greater cyber threat visibility and develop longstanding relationships with the public utilities that power our homes and businesses.”

DOE also awarded $5 million for this initiative to the American Public Power Association.

For questions on this initiative, please contact Emma Stewart.

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.