Last week, the Department of Energy participated in a vitally-important exercise that brought together industry and government leaders focused on the response to simulated cyber and physical attacks on the North American power grid. Held every two years by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the two-day Grid Security Exercise – known as GridEx – is designed to test the electricity sector’s ability to respond to grid security emergencies, improve communications among partners, identify lessons learned, and engage senior leadership. Our goal is to determine ways forward on how best to secure the grid and improve future response efforts.
This year’s GridEx IV was the largest exercise of its kind, involving more than 6,500 participants from 450 industry and government organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Electric utilities, state and Federal agencies, critical infrastructure cross-sector partners, and supply chain stakeholders came together to challenge our assumptions, collaborate, and enhance our preparedness for current and evolving threats to the grid.
Exercises such as GridEx provide an opportunity for government and industry leaders to discuss challenges on a variety of topics, including information and intelligence sharing, operational coordination, emergency authorities and waivers, industry mutual assistance, and public and private collaboration. In the event of an incident, the Department of Energy would be working alongside our industry and intergovernmental partners at all levels to maintain situational awareness, share critical threat information, and facilitate the restoration and recovery of affected critical energy infrastructure. Public private partnerships are essential – especially since the majority of the Nation’s energy infrastructure is privately owned and operated.
Here at the Department of Energy, we know that there are many hazards and serious threats facing the electric sector, and that the nature of these threats continues to evolve. We remain committed to working closely with our private and public partners to address all threats so that – together – we can keep the lights on for a secure and prosperous America.