McNerney, Latta Introduce Bills to Improve Electric Grid Security

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Washington, DC – As the nation continues to grapple with the increasing threat of cyberattacks and how to address this critical issue, Congressmen  Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and Bob Latta (OH-05)  introduced two bipartisan pieces of legislation to improve our nation’s grid security and resilience.

The two bills, along with two others, were the focus of an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy hearing held earlier today. H.R. 5239, the Cyber Sense Act, and H.R. 5240, the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, aim to bolster America’s electric infrastructure by encouraging coordination between the Department of Energy (DOE) and electric utilities. The hearing, entitled “DOE Modernization: Legislation Addressing Cybersecurity and Emergency Response,” focused on these bills along with two others.

H.R. 5239 would create a voluntary Department of Energy ‘Cyber Sense’ program that would identify and promote cyber-secure products for use in the bulk-power system. The bill also establishes a testing process for the products along with a reporting process of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It would require the Secretary of Energy to keep a related database on the products. This would aid electric utilities that are evaluating products and their potential to cause harm to the electric grid.

H.R. 5240 directs DOE to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships in order to improve cybersecurity of electric utilities. The legislation would improve sharing of best practices and data collection, along with providing training and technical assistance to electric utilities in order to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks.

“Any vulnerability or vulnerable component within our electric grid system is a threat to our physical and national security,” said Congressman McNerney. “The grid is the backbone of our economy and touches every aspect of our lives. That’s why Congressman Latta and I launched the Grid Innovation Caucus – to start a dialogue about the need to invest in grid modernization and security. These bills are the result of the work we have done to date and will strengthen the electric utility system while building partnerships between DOE and industry. I thank Congressman Latta for his partnership and look forward to continuing to work to ensure a more secure and resilient grid.”

“Building a robust defense of our nation’s electric infrastructure can’t be a burden solely supported by the Federal government,” said Congressman Latta. “Cooperation is key to ensuring that the best information, products, and practices are being deployed to ensure the resiliency of our electric grid. These bills will foster a collaborative relationship between DOE and the utilities to ensure that our grid becomes increasingly resilient in the face of cyberattacks. Working in a bipartisan way with my fellow co-chair of the Grid Innovation Caucus, Rep. McNerney, I’ll continue to push to bring our aging grid into the 21st century.”

McNerney and Latta co-chair the Grid Innovation Caucus, which was founded to provide a forum for discussing solutions to the many challenges facing the grid, and to educate Members of Congress and staff about the importance of the electric grid with relation to the economy, energy security, and advanced technologies being utilized to enhance grid capabilities.

Congressman McNerney’s opening statement from the hearing can be found here.

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

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