ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has been awarded $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to expand the association’s Essence cybersecurity program. The award is the next step in a pilot partnership to expand cybersecurity information sharing and readiness announced by DOE last year.
“Partnerships like this are vital as we work to keep the electric grid secure and reliable,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “As threats and threat actors evolve, electric cooperatives consistently work to improve their defense capabilities. Collaboration and cooperation are two strengths that co-ops draw on as they work together to implement cybersecurity solutions. America’s electric cooperatives look forward to working with DOE and PNNL in this expanded opportunity and we look forward to bringing our cooperative approach to this partnership.”
The two-year, $3.9 million award will support the deployment of Essence, an information and operational technology sensor platform created by NRECA with advanced capabilities to detect industrial control system anomalies and threats with speed and precision. As part of the deployment process, Essence systems will be the first ones to connect to PNNL’s Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP), which leverages DOE resources to analyze, and distribute actionable threat information to the energy sector.
Essence and CRISP will work in unison to pilot a heightened state of awareness, information sharing, and cyber-readiness between the electric sector and the federal government. These award funds build on a powerful and growing suite of NRECA’s cyber resources developed to support the electric industry’s work to stay ahead of evolving cyberthreats.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.