A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the Protecting Resources On The Electric grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act. The legislation would enhance electric grid security by incentivizing electric utilities to make cybersecurity investments, as well as establishing a Department of Energy (DoE) grant and technical assistance program to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology for utilities that are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and James Risch, R-Idaho.

“The energy grid is the fundamental foundation of 21st century American life, powering our homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure,” said Sen. King, co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. “However, our grid is dangerously vulnerable to cyberattacks, putting lives and livelihoods at risk. It is absolutely essential that we strengthen our energy grid’s cyber defenses to protect these key services – and to do so, we must work closely with the private sector, which owns much of America’s energy infrastructure.”

The Protect Act would:

  • “Direct FERC to issue a rulemaking on rate incentives for advanced cybersecurity technology. This will enable and incentivize utilities to invest in new technologies that improve their cybersecurity defenses.
  • Establish a grant and technical assistance program at DoE to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology on the electric systems of utilities that are not regulated by FERC. Examples include cooperatives and municipal utilities, as well as small investor-owned utilities that sell less than four million megawatt-hours of electricity per year.”

“The Federal government and industry have a shared responsibility to enhance the cybersecurity posture of electric utilities, municipal utilities, and electric utility systems owned by electric cooperatives to protect our electric grid from cyber threats,” said Sen. Murkowski. “The PROTECT Act will help ensure utilities across America, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, are able to continue investing in advanced, cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies, while also strengthening the partnership between private industry and the Federal government.”

The bill was first introduced in Sept. 2019 and was co-sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., James Risch, R-Idaho, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Angus King, I-Maine.

Read More About
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.