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The Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment has released a new study which identifies how US states and utilities can leverage existing tools to optimise the security of the electric grid which is vulnerable to massive disruption.

Best practices included in the report “Improving the Cybersecurity of the Electric Distribution Grid: Pathways to Enhancing Grid Security.” include:

  • Boosting the institutional capacity of regulators and moving confidential information to improve the cybersecurity posture of utilities.
  • Cybersecurity and smart grid management and operations audits and reports can reduce the “information asymmetry” that exists between utilities and their regulators and limits actions on cybersecurity.
  • As utilities increasingly propose the use of alternative rate mechanisms to incentivise cybersecurity investments, legislatures and commissions will need a balanced approach to weigh the benefits of the alternative rate mechanism against its potential shortcomings, such as a reduction in the lengthy, formal due process.
  • Resiliency metrics for assessing cyber preparedness.

The study examines the cybersecurity preparedness of more than two dozen US states including California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

Richard Mroz, Protect Our Power senior advisor for state and government relations, said the study elevates approaches that can be implemented widely to better secure the electric distribution grid.

Securing the electric grid is a hot topic set for discussion at DISTRIBUTECH INTERNATIONAL. Click here to register to attend or for more information about the event.

“Action is needed to reduce the impact of a major cyberattack on the nation’s electric grid, and this report provides concrete steps towards ensuring a more resilient grid,” said Mark James, project lead and adjunct professor at Vermont Law School. “Our research identifies pathways for utilities and utilities commissions to reduce existing barriers to investment and increase system resilience.”

The study has been commissioned by Protect Our Power to identify a pathway that state electric utility commissions and their utilities can use to facilitate timely grid upgrades, including appropriate financial options for equitably sharing the costs of upgrades.

The study is available here