WASHINGTON, D.C. – In September 2020, the Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) announced cooperative agreements totaling $12 million over a three-year period to develop and deploy cyber and cyber-physical solutions for distribution and municipal utilities. As part of a congressionally directed initiative, CESER will partner with the American Public Power Association (APPA), which represents community-owned utilities serving nearly 50 million customers, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents more than 900 electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts.

“APPA and NRECA understand the specific security needs of their memberships, and the relationships the associations have with small distribution and municipal power providers nationwide will help take the solutions that are developed and rapidly put them to real-world use,” said Sean Plankey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for CESER. “As the final link in the chain of secure electric delivery, these community-owned companies and cooperatives rely heavily on the types of shared security resources we are aiming to provide through this initiative.”

Alongside APPA and NRECA, CESER’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems division, which carries out CESER’s research and development function, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory will develop and demonstrate the final cyber and cyber-physical solutions to be deployed to utilities across the nation. The solutions will detect and respond to adversarial activity through community-led information sharing; use artificial intelligence to reduce false positives in threat detection; provide advanced analytics for pinpointing when and where a system was compromised; increase system resilience; and employ autonomous defense at remote endpoints.

The final solution will provide utilities with emerging innovations at the hardware, firmware and/or software levels to protect the key operational technology components that enable the safe control of the physical systems that deliver electric power. CESER aims to deploy the solution to utility participants by 2023.