National Security Perspective
by Paul N. Stockton
Power companies and US government agencies have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen preparedness for cyber and physical attacks on the electric grid. In December 2015, Congress authorized the secretary of energy to issue emergency orders to grid operators to protect and restore grid reliability in grid security emergencies. These orders could help sustain electric service to military bases and other vital facilities. However, unless the electric industry and the Department of Energy partner to develop emergency orders before attacks occur, they will miss significant opportunities to help deter and (if necessary) defeat such attacks.
This report examines design requirements for emergency orders. It analyzes decisions criteria that the president might use to determine that a grid security emergency exists, which is a prerequisite for issuing emergency orders. The report assesses possible orders for three phases of grid security emergencies: when attacks are imminent; when attacks are under way; and when utilities begin to restore power, potentially while facing follow-on attacks. It identifies recommendations to strengthen emergency communications plans and capabilities. It concludes by identifying areas for further analysis, including measures to bolster cross-sector resilience between the grid and the other infrastructure systems and sectors on which it depends.