Monday, December 14, 2009

NERC and cyber security

Mr. Banholzer:

Thank you for your question to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission regarding the Smart Grid and cyber security.

The Commission is well aware of issues regarding cyber security and makes sure that Idaho and its regulated utilities are actively involved in the national effort to work to protect our transmission and distributions systems from cyber attack.

Idaho is part or a regional Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) and our commission as well as utilities are part of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Reliability and well as security for transmission and distribution have been ongoing concerns for a number of years, and particularly so since 9-11. Our utilities must meet basic ERO and NERC standards or face stiff financial penalties for not doing so. And, obviously, it is in utilities’ self-interest to ensure their systems are reliable and secure.

The vendors in charge of installing Idaho Power’s smart grid are certified in their respective areas of expertise and have had considerable experience installing automated metering infrastructure nationwide. In fact, a major advantage of smart-grid technology will be its ability to detect outages and “troubleshoot” other areas of concerns that, overall, will make the transmission and distribution system more reliable and safe than it is without automated metering infrastructure.

Since the issuance of FERC Order 706 addressing cyber security standards, state commissioners as well as the national organizations and utilities have been working together to implement the standards. I’m including some links to press releases announcing updated cyber security standards. From these press releases and the Web sites (below) for NERC and FERC you can find more information than you probably want on what is being done in these areas.

Thanks again for writing and please forgive my delay in responding. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Gene Fadness
Executive Assistant
Idaho Public Utilities Commission

May 6 press release announcing NERC standards:

June 17 press release re: Updated developments in cyber security:

FERC press release re: cyber security standards:

NERC website:

FERC website:

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