Unsurprisingly, the 2020 National Hurricane Season has been complicated by the continuing coronavirus pandemic, but the Department of Energy (DOE), through its Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER), is equipped to fulfill its role in preparedness, information awareness, and the facilitation of energy systems restoration while protecting public health throughout the Gulf Coast.
Alongside its public and private partners in Florida, CESER has taken a proactive approach in hurricane preparedness to ensure energy reliability by strengthening our energy infrastructure and delivery capabilities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 13 to 19 named storms this season, 6 to 10 of which could become hurricanes.
Last week, I toured Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point Nuclear Plant. Turkey Point employs 700 Floridians and powers over 900,000 Florida homes per year, playing an integral role in providing emissions-free energy transmitted over a strong, robust power grid. Its success is partly why DOE has provided Florida’s energy industry $175 million in funding in recent years.
I next visited West Palm Beach to meet with NextEra Energy’s Florida Power Distribution Command Center. Under the Trump administration, our public and private partners have hardened Florida’s power grid to guard against natural disasters, assuring Floridians that it can handle the worst of Mother Nature’s behavior, and any power failure will be short-lived.
But, as I wrote in The Orlando Sentinel, our national grid must remain resilient against a different kind of disaster: Cyber-security attacks from our adversaries who seek to disrupt our bulk-power components.
Experts report that China, Russia, and Iran all have the capability to execute cyberattacks against America’s BulkPower System (BPS). China and Iran have previously penetrated our networks.
Last month, the President signed an Executive Order to secure America’s bulk-power system in the face of an attack on our BPS components. This Order authorizes my team at DOE to work with Federal agencies and our private-sector partners to eliminate vulnerabilities within the existing system and develop policies that will keep the system safe from foreign threats.
Under the Executive Order, we’ll prohibit the future use of potentially harmful BPS equipment and identify and remediate existing equipment that could pose an undue risk to our national security, our critical infrastructure, and the safety of Americans.
Florida plays a vital role in our grid resiliency and nuclear energy industry, and I enjoyed being on the ground to see it firsthand. DOE continues to be a proud partner with the State of Florida. We are confident that even in the face of hurricanes and cyber-storms, Florida will remain resilient, supplying reliable power to its people.