Funding for smart grid cyber security in U.S.


Steven Chu, U.S.
Energy Secretary
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 5, 2010 – United States Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week announced investment of more than $30.4 million in ten projects that will address cyber security issues facing the nation’s electric grid.

These projects are aimed to address cyber security concerns from two approaches – in research and development on innovative cyber security solutions, and the establishment of a National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Organization (NESCO).

In the innovative cyber security solutions category eight projects are being funded that will research, develop, and commercialize a range of cyber security solutions to strengthen the U.S. energy infrastructure against cyber intrusion and assist owners and operators in complying with cyber security regulations. 

These projects are:

  • Grid Protection Alliance in partnership with the University of Illinois, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PJM Interconnection, and AREVA T&D for a secure information exchange gateway (SIEGate) that provides secure communication of data between control centers ($3.215 million).
  • Honeywell International in partnership with University of Illinois and Idaho National Laboratory for an architecture for critical systems that limits each operator’s access and control privileges to the appropriate level for their job function ($2.203 million).
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in partnership with CenterPoint Energy and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for a device for the control system local area network (LAN) that allows only trusted data sources and trusted communication patterns ($2.974 million).
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in partnership with Dominion Virginia Power and Sandia National Laboratories for an anti-virus solution for control systems that prevents the execution of unauthorized code and maintains secure settings and configurations ($1.631 million).
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in partnership with Tennessee Valley Authority and Sandia National Laboratories for a low power “dongle” that provides strong authentication, logging, alarming, and secure communications for intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) in the field ($1.117 million).
  • Siemens Energy Automation in partnership with Sacramento Municipal Utilities District and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for a near real time cyber and physical security situational awareness capability for the control system environment ($3.153 million).
  • Sypris Electronics in partnership with Purdue University Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for a cost effective and scalable capability to manage the numerous cryptographic keys assigned to smart meters and other remote devices to secure communications ($3.141 million).
  • Telcordia Technologies in partnership with the University of Illinois, EPRI and DTE Energy to research vulnerabilities in energy sector communication protocols and develop mitigation approaches that harden these protocols against cyber attack while enforcing proper communications within energy delivery systems ($3.019 million).

The NESCO will be a broad-based, public-private partnership that will work to improve electric sector computer and network cyber security, including those used in the smart grid. Working with the DOE and other federal agencies, it will bring together domestic and international experts, software developers and users to focus research efforts; assess and test the security of new cyber technologies, architectures, and applications; and analyze, monitor, and disseminate infrastructure weaknesses and threats.

The Energy Sector Security Consortium, Inc. (EnergySec) has been selected to form the NESCO ($5.898 million). It will work to improve electric system reliability by supplying data analysis and forensics capabilities for cyber-related threat. It will also assist in creating a framework to identify and prepare for challenges to grid reliability; share information, best practices, resources, and solutions to and from domestic and international electric sector participants; and encourage key electric sector supplier and vendor support and interaction.

In addition the EPRI has been selected to provide a research and analysis resource for the NESCO ($4.1 million). EPRI will conduct assessment and analysis of cyber security requirements and results from groups such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), assess existing power system and cyber security standards to meet power system security requirements, and test security technologies in labs and pilot projects.

“These awards help us make a significant leap forward to strengthen the security and reliability of the nation’s electric grid, in a climate of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks,” commented Secretary Chu. “The development of technologies that can provide defense-in-depth cyber security solutions, and increased insight from private-public collaborations, will allow us to better protect the nation’s energy delivery systems.”

More information on the projects is available in the attachment below.