Updated: February 9, 2021
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” which, in part, suspends EO 13920, “Securing the United States Bulk-Power System” for 90 days.
Consequently, responsible Utilities will not be expected to formally file their certifications on February 15, 2021 (designating CDFs as a priority load in the applicable system load shedding and restoration plans) and on March 17, 2021 (confirming that they have not entered into prohibited transactions and established an internal process to track compliance).
During this time, the Secretary of Energy and the Director of OMB will jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued. In furtherance of mitigating threats, the Department of Energy will continue its engagements with utilities on energy security issues during the suspension of EO 13920.
On May 1, 2020, former President Trump signed Executive Order 13920, "Securing the United States Bulk-Power System," (BPS EO) which authorized the U.S. Secretary of Energy to work with Federal partners and the energy industry to secure America’s Bulk-Power System. The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a press release on May 1, 2020.
On December 17, former Secretary Brouillette issued a prohibition order related to the EO, “Prohibition Order Securing Critical Defense Facilities.” The order applies to a limited number of utilities and specific BPS electric equipment from the People’s Republic of China that poses an undue risk to the BPS, the security or resilience of critical infrastructure, the economy, national security, or safety and security of Americans. The DOE issued a press release on December 17, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. On January 20, 2021 President Biden issued Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, which suspends for 90 days Executive Order 13920, Securing the United States Bulk-Power System. Does this mean Executive Order 13920 is rescinded and no longer applicable?
A1. Executive Order 13990 does not rescind or revoke but instead suspends Executive Order 13920 for 90 days, allowing the Secretary of Energy and the Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to take stock of the breadth and scope of implementation actions underway, and jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued. During that period, the Department’s engagements with utilities on energy security issues will continue, and our commitment to mitigating threats affecting critical defense facilities and the electric sector remains unchanged.
Q2. How does the 90 day suspension of Executive Order 13920 affect the Department of Energy’s December 17, 2020 Prohibition Order? For example, do Responsible Utilities still need to provide certifications by the February 15, 2021 and March 17, 2021 deadlines per the Prohibition Order?
A2. Because the December 17, 2020 Prohibition Order is predicated on the authorities delegated to the Secretary of Energy in Executive Order 13920, the Prohibition Order, including the February 15, 2021 and March 17, 2021 certification deadlines, are suspended as long as Executive Order 13920 is suspended.
However, the Department expects that, during this 90-day review period, Responsible Utilities will refrain from installation of bulk-power system electric equipment or programmable components specified in Attachment 1 of the Prohibition Order that is subject to foreign adversaries’ ownership, control, or influence, and that Responsible Utilities will continue to work with the Department on identifying and mitigating supply chain vulnerabilities. To ensure that security of the Nation’s bulk-power system is strengthened during this suspension, the Department requests that Responsible Utilities designate critical defense facilities as a priority load in the applicable system load shedding and restoration plans.
The Department’s engagements with utilities on energy security issues will continue, and our commitment to mitigating threats affecting critical defense facilities and the electric sector remains unchanged. The Department is focused on supporting industry by identifying and mitigating supply chain vulnerabilities through programs such as the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response’s Cybersecurity Testing for Resilient Industrial Control Systems (CyTRICS) program and research and development of next generation technology.
Q3. Does the Department of Energy still intend to issue regulations, or a notice of proposed rulemaking as outlined in Executive Order 13920?
A3. As Executive Order 13920 is suspended, any rulemaking to implement Executive Order 13920 is suspended as well. During this time, the Department may evaluate all related implementation actions underway and, with OMB, will consider whether to recommend replacement of Executive Order 13920.
The Department is reviewing the comments provided in response to the July 2020 Request for Information, which address the incorporation of foreign ownership, control, and influence metrics into procurement processes, alignment with standards and regulations, current regulatory burdens, and market impacts. Concurrent with the review of Executive Order 13920, the Department will continue coordinating with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and the North American Transmission Forum to expand and improve supply chain risk management across the energy sector.
- Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis
- Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System
- BPS EO Federal Register (85 Fed. Reg. 26595)
- Comments Submitted in Response to BPS EO Request For Information (RFI)
- “Prohibition Order Securing Critical Defense Facilities”
About the BPS EO:
The EO declares threats to the bulk-power system by foreign adversaries constitute a national emergency. Serving as the backbone of our Nation’s energy infrastructure, the BPS is fundamental to national security, emergency services, critical infrastructure, and the economy. The 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment and the 2020-2022 National Counterintelligence Strategy describe in detail the threat foreign adversaries pose to our critical infrastructure and the importance of energy to the United States. Accordingly, it is imperative we work quickly to increase protections to the U.S. BPS.
BPS EO Specific Reference Documents:
- Frequently Asked Questions (Updated January 15, 2021)
- BPS EO – One Page Summary
- Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and OE Assistant Secretary Bruce Walker discuss the EO with POLITICO Energy (5/13/20)
- Stakeholder Call on the Bulk-Power System Executive Order (5/21/20) (Transcript)
- DOE Issues Request for Information for Bulk-Power System Executive Order (7/8/20)
Related Reference Documents:
- 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (114-94)
- Division F – Energy Security. Sec. 61003. Critical electric infrastructure security.
- 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community
- 2019 Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain
- 2020-2022 National Counterintelligence Strategy
Upon issuance of the RFI, DOE’s guidelines on ex parte communications now govern how interested parties may communicate with DOE about the rulemaking. The guidelines, available at https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/gcprod/documents/ex_parte_guidance.pdf, require DOE employees to have the primary goal of listening and asking clarifying questions during meetings with interested parties. We cannot engage in negotiation or reveal substantive aspects of the forthcoming rulemaking. This restriction is meant to safeguard the integrity of DOE’s rulemaking process and is in effect until a FINAL rule is published. For additional information regarding the BPS EO, please email bulkpowersystemEO@hq.doe.gov.