Source: | Cathy Cash | July 25, 2016

The Department of Energy will provide the support in a three-year partnership with NRECA and the American Public Power Association. NRECA will use its $7.5 million share to make cutting-edge cybersecurity expertise and technology more accessible to the co-op community.

“Cooperatives well understand that no utility is immune from attack. We also understand that protecting the electric grid is a challenge the utility sector must solve. By collaborating with our partners, and giving the nation’s more than 900 co-ops access to advanced cybersecurity technology and training, we can lift all boats,” said NRECA COO Jeffrey Connor.

Co-ops own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines and serve 42 million people in 47 states. Together NRECA and APPA serve 26 percent of U.S. electricity consumers.

“Our goal is continual improvement against cyber and physical attacks,” said Cynthia Hsu, NRECA cybersecurity program manager. “DOE’s assistance will go a long way toward helping us design cybersecurity training targeted to meeting co-op needs, working with member co-ops to enhance the security of their systems, and helping co-ops identify priorities in the fight against evolving threats.”

The DOE award is subject to congressional approval.

“As our definition of energy security and the cyber threat landscape evolve, we continue to help our partners strengthen the ways in which they protect critical infrastructure,” DOE Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said in announcing the award July 12.

“This funding is another important step in improving the resiliency of our power grid and our ability to respond quickly and effectively to threats in today’s dynamic environment,” she said.