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WASHINGTON – Today,  U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both senior members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reintroduced S. 1400, the Protecting Resources On The Electric grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act, which enhances electric grid security by incentivizing electric utilities to make cybersecurity investments. The bill also establishes a Department of Energy (DOE) grant and technical assistance program to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology for utilities that are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

Additional cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

“SolarWinds once again demonstrated that America’s adversaries are bent on penetrating our cyber defenses,” said Risch. “The PROTECT Act will incentivize electric utilities to adopt and integrate advanced cybersecurity measures to protect our critical energy infrastructure from incursions and potentially devastating cyberattacks.”

“The threat of cyberattacks by foreign adversaries and other sophisticated entities is real and growing and COVID-19 has not helped reduce the threat of cyberattacks on America’s networks, including our energy infrastructure. In Alaska where energy prices are already amongst the nation’s highest, the cost for small co-ops to properly secure their cybersecurity needs is continuing to rise. The federal government and industry have a shared responsibility to enhance the cybersecurity posture of electric utilities, municipal utilities, and electric utility systems owned by electric cooperatives to protect our electric grid from cyberthreats,” said Murkowski. “The PROTECT Act will help ensure utilities across America, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, are able to continue investing in advanced, cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies, while also strengthening the partnership between private industry and the federal government.”

Bill Details:

  • Directs FERC to issue a rulemaking on rate incentives for advanced cybersecurity technology. This will enable and incentivize utilities to invest in new technologies that improve their cybersecurity defenses. 
  • Establishes a grant and technical assistance program at DOE to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology on the electric systems of utilities that are not regulated by FERC. Examples include cooperatives and municipal utilities, as well as small investor-owned utilities that sell less than four million megawatt-hours of electricity per year.

Bill text can be found here.

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