The Senate Energy Committee held a hearing July 17 about securing electric grid systems and improving cybersecurity for existing infrastructure, Renew Grid Mag reports.
Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman cited a recent week-long power outage in the Washington region as proof of how important reliable service on the electric grid is.
The area was struck by a derecho thunderstorm June 29, knocking hundreds of thousands of customers offline.
Bingaman said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission‘s system for protecting the grid is complicated and inadequate, Angela Beniwal reports.
A recent government audit claims current regulations do not ensure the security of smart grid systems.
In response, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that the government should take a more nimble approach to handling cyber-related threats, rather than giving agencies broad new powers.
Bingaman noted that his proposed cybersecurity bill would give FERC more authority to develop and enforce grid reliability standards, power it initially received in 2005, according to Beniwal.
Joseph McClelland, FERC’s director of the office of electric reliability, told the panel FERC does not have enough federal authority in situations involving national security threats.
FERC’s authority does not include power systems in Hawaii, Alaska and other grid facilities in large cities like New York, he added.