October 2017 saw the first ever US National Cyber Security Awareness month, which was followed in November by the country’s energy utilities focusing their attention on Gridex, an event that tests potential cyber security threats and other vulnerabilities within the grid.
Gridex took place in an increasingly complex era, where the energy industry is under increasing numbers of threats from cyber-attacks and demands more extensive leadership from bodies, such the Federal Energy Commission (FERC).
In 2017, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security made a joint announcement stating that America’s nuclear, energy and water sectors has been subject to repeated cyber-attack attempts.
The vulnerability of the US electricity grid has been a long-standing issue that has been highlighted by every president since 1990.
This was reinforced following the recent cold spell that led Bruce Walker, an assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, to say that the grid had left itself exposed to reliability issues following the retirement of coal and nuclear plants that provided a crucial baseload power source.
During a recent hearing, Walker said: “I believe building this resilience model should be the top priority for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability over the coming years.”