Declassify attacks and incentivize resilience

NCGR issues bold recommendations to keep the lights on in new report

Washington, DC – Today in view of rising global tensions, bold new recommendations were issued by the National Commission for Grid Resilience (NCGR) to secure and build a more resilient grid in the United States, the world’s greatest consumer of electricity. Co-chaired by General Wesley Clark and Congressman Darrell Issa and composed of experts in the fields of energy and national security, this bipartisan effort builds upon the most actionable recommendations from similar commissions and has developed nine particularly novel solutions. These recommendations will be discussed at a public, virtual event with the Commissioners and moderated by Dr. John Hamre, CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The public are invited to attend the virtual forum by joining the discussion here at: https://www.csis.org/events/online-event-grid-resilience-priorities-next-administration

The NCGR report focuses on securing and building a more resilient grid by offering 9 urgent and bold recommendations; (1) a profound overhaul of the communication of classified threat information to utilities; (2) a new federal agency dedicated to regaining the upper hand against potential adversaries and developing and testing cutting edge technologies and strategies against both current and emerging threats; (3) a nationwide network of resilience-focused microgrid test beds to advance game-changing emergent technologies to deployment feasibility within half a decade; (4) a reformation of transmission planning for both terrestrial and offshore power grids; (5) & (6) major improvements to standards and reporting practices and ramp-ups of federal spending on resilience investments; (7) a new congressional focus on the topic of grid resilience that prioritizes the issue across the partisan divide; (8) a strategic reserve for our most essential grid transformers and investing in U.S. manufacturers to supply these most precious assets; and (9) an investment in modeling and in electric infrastructure–both bulk and secure microgrids/Safe Havens–in locations where they will be safe from harm.

“Since 2017, an alarming series of reports from the nation’s most esteemed scientific, infrastructure, and cyberspace expert communities have indicated that the nation’s power grid is profoundly vulnerable to active and continuous threats by hostile foreign state and non-state actors,” says General Clark, “Both competing powers and rogue states are engaged in active attempts to disrupt the US power grid.” The commission report notes potential threats are myriad: cyberattacks, physical sabotage, and even the detonation of high-altitude nuclear weapons, which could create an instantaneous and country-wide blackout through electro-magnetic pulse.

“Through our research, we have found a significant lag in communication between the intelligence community and power companies,” continues General Clark, “To keep our nation powered and our electric companies informed, we must develop a practical balance between the needs for secrecy and action as threats continue to emerge.”

Despite the dire consequences of inaction and political gridlock in DC, Co-Chair Darrell Issa remains hopeful, “There is hope, and the discussions on investing in infrastructure offer a tremendous opportunity. The same expert commissions that called attention to the problem have also developed extensive action plans to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from an attack on the grid.” The report details how industry and government can work together to better secure the grid against attacks, improve its resilience to stresses and extreme weather, and harden our critical infrastructure–both military and civilian installations. Issa sums up the report with, “We can be more prepared to respond to and recover from major outages by creating practical action plans to mobilize government agencies to work with speed and agility to assist industry in recovery. All that remains is for the government to incentivize the private sector, prioritize, and take action on these bipartisan, common sense recommendations.”

The Commission collected an independent blue-ribbon commission of power sector, national security, and technical experts to examine the evolving landscape of grid resilience, identify rapid-action pathways, and make up for lost time. The Co-Chairs urge the campaigns of President Trump, former Vice President Biden, and Congressional candidates to develop comprehensive plans to secure the nation’s power grid as a top-level priority.

For more information on the NCGR and their recent report please visit, https://gridresilience.org/.

The National Commission on Grid Resilience (NCGR) identifies and promotes national strategic policy initiatives to ensure the security and resilience of the U.S. electrical grid. The Commission serves to: (1) generate and focus interest from the public and private sector on grid security and resilience; (2) facilitate bipartisan support for national grid innovation efforts; (3) develop an actionable, nonpartisan road map for grid innovation; and (4) inform legislative and executive branch priorities. The Commission is composed of leading experts on energy and national security including General Wesley Clark, Congressman Darrell Issa, Norm Augustine, General Paul Kern, Kevin Knobloch, Gueta Mezzetti, Dan Poneman, and Executive Director, Adam Cohen.

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