Washington, DC – On Tuesday, September 29, 2020,, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 359, the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, and H.R. 360, the Cyber Sense Act – two critical bills introduced by Congressmen Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and Bob Latta (OH-05) which would bolster America’s electric infrastructure by encouraging coordination between the Department of Energy (DOE) and electric utilities.
“It is more important than ever that Congress pursue policies to support our grid infrastructure and secure it against potential physical and cyber threats,” said Congressman McNerney. “These bills will not only strengthen the electric utility system, they will also help build partnerships between DOE and industry. I’m proud that they have passed the House and I thank my friend and co-sponsor, Congressman Latta, for his partnership on this important issue.”
“Over the last quarter century, we have seen incredible changes to the way we communicate with the rest of the world and the way we engage in commerce,” said Congressman Latta. “Along with these changes, we have also seen innovation in the technologies that power society, resulting in a more efficient and streamlined electric grid. Unfortunately, the promise of a more interconnected society also means that we must also address the challenges and vulnerabilities that arise with it. I am pleased to see the passage of two bills working to improve our nation’s grid security and resiliency, and I am proud to have led these bills with Congressman McNerney over the past two Congresses.”
H.R. 359 directs DOE to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships in order to improve cybersecurity of electric utilities. The legislation would improve sharing of best practices and data collection, along with providing training and technical assistance to electric utilities in order to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks.
H.R. 360 would create a voluntary Department of Energy ‘Cyber Sense’ program that would identify and promote cyber-secure products for use in the bulk-power system. The bill also establishes a testing process for the products, along with a reporting process of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and it would require the Secretary of Energy to keep a related database on the products. This would aid electric utilities that are evaluating products and their potential to cause harm to the electric grid.
Congressmen McNerney and Latta co-chair the Grid Innovation Caucus, which was founded to provide a forum for discussing solutions to the many challenges facing the grid, and to educate Members of Congress and staff about the importance of the electric grid with relation to the economy, energy security, and advanced technologies being utilized to enhance grid capabilities.