WASHINGTON, D.C.– Building on the Administration’s commitment to improving the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system, the Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the upcoming publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) introducing administrative procedures to implement DOE’s designation authority for Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII).  This action will ensure that DOE is compliant with its responsibilities and authorities under the Federal Power Act and the FAST Act. The publication of the Notice in the Federal Register on Monday, October 29, 2018, initiates a sixty (60)-day public comment period that will close on December 28, 2018.  Details about the public comment process and DOE contact information are included in the Notice.

“A strong and resilient power grid is vital to America’s security, economy, and modern way of life,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “The proposed CEII rule is a vital step forward in protecting the nation’s energy critical infrastructure and ensuring a reliable and resilient flow of energy to America’s communities and businesses.”

CEII is non-classified national security information about a system or asset of the bulk-power system, whether physical or virtual, that if destroyed or incapacitated, would negatively affect the national security, economic security, public health or safety, or any combination of such effects.  A CEII designation exempts the submitted information about physical and virtual assets of the bulk-power system from public release under the Freedom of Information Act. As a general principle, DOE does not intend to designate information as CEII if it has been made publicly available by of owner or generator of the CEII previously.

In addition to establishing a set of procedures by which the Secretary of Energy would designate, protect and share CEII, the DOE proposed rule also sets forth provisions concerning the type of information that the DOE would designate as CEII at the time that the information is submitted in response to a request from DOE. The procedures do not contemplate any new information collection or storage techniques, but instead describe simple marking protocols for physical and electronic materials to indicate that they are to be treated as CEII. 

The proposed rule also seeks to harmonize DOE’s CEII designation procedures with those existing regulations used by the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) to carry out its shared CEII authority under 215A of the Federal Power Act.  The proposed procedures also provide for DOE coordination with other Federal agency partners (e.g., the Department of Homeland Security) in order to facilitate mutual understanding and implementation among federal information classification programs as it may relate to CEII.  Finally, DOE includes a proposed process for early coordination with those submitters of potential CEII-designated materials to facilitate voluntary sharing of CEII with, between and by Federal and non-federal entities as appropriate.

More information about the Critical Electric Infrastructure Information Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available on the Federal Register.