NRECA’s New Commercial Cybersecurity Solution Protects OT and IT Systems in Real Time

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today announced the commercial launch of Essence, a next generation Operations Technology (OT) and cybersecurity monitoring solution.

Purpose-built to protect America’s critical infrastructure, Essence continuously monitors the operation of electric grids and other operational networks to give real-time situational awareness to owners and operators of critical infrastructure. The program is used by 149 co-ops that collectively provide power to a total of 4.6 million meters. It can effectively be deployed by other types of utilities as well.

“As threats and threat actors evolve, electric cooperatives consistently work to improve their cyber defenses,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “That’s especially true as the nation’s electric grid becomes increasingly connected and digitized. Essence is field tested and proven to help electric cooperatives stay ahead of the curve.”

The program runs on a proprietary artificial intelligence system that oversees a cyber-physical rules engine which instantly alerts operators to both physical and cyber anomalies. This instant awareness allows Essence users to quickly identify and respond to issues in real time. The technology also enhances the physical security of electric system assets such as transformers.

“Identifying, troubleshooting and responding to increasingly sophisticated cyber and physical attacks is a constant area of focus for the owners of critical infrastructure,” said Wayne McGurk, NRECA’s Chief Information Officer and Essence program lead. “Essence is uniquely positioned to empower America’s electric co-ops and other critical infrastructure owners across many sectors that can benefit from monitoring their OT and IT assets in real time.”

NRECA developed Essence in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE) and electric co-ops. The current version of Essence demonstrates a significant advancement in the capability to defend against major security threats against critical infrastructure.

“The development and deployment of Essence at Wake Electric has given us advanced visibility and operational awareness while enhancing our system protection,” said Don Bowman, vice president of operations and engineering at Wake Electric Cooperative, which provides electric service to 48,000 consumers in seven North Carolina counties. “This new visibility into what’s happening on our system enables us to stay ahead of evolving threats.”

Essence is available to NRECA’s member co-ops as well as utilities of all kinds, including municipal and investor-owned electric utilities and natural gas and water providers. To request a demo or learn more, visit

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.