NRECA Earns $6 Million DOE Grant to Boost Electric Co-op Cybersecurity Readiness

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Department of Energy today awarded the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association a $6 million grant to expand ongoing research and development into electric co-op cybersecurity tools.

Known as Essence 2.0, the three-year project will deploy a revolutionary cyber monitoring tool to NRECA’s member cooperatives. Essence 2.0 enables machine-to-machine learning and is designed to quickly detect and share information about anomalies in utility network traffic that may be the result of a cyber breach. The technology also provides specific information that allows for isolation and definition of the breach characteristics for sharing with others in the industry to determine if a breach is a larger, coordinated attack by adversaries. 

“As cyber threats and threat actors continue to evolve, so must electric co-ops’ capability to defend against them,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Maintaining the security and resilience of the grid, and protecting consumer data, requires a flexible approach that draws on a variety of tools, resources and options. The Department of Energy recognizes the importance of this tool to our sector’s cyber readiness. We believe it will be a valuable resource in our members’ cache of cybersecurity preparedness resources.”

The Essence 2.0 project builds on NRECA’s existing cyber readiness and prevention tools and will be deployed to electric cooperatives early next year. Click here for more information and background about the award.

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.