Securing the U.S. Electrical Grid, the “Most Critical of Critical Infrastructure” 

U.S. Electrical GridThe Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) released a report this month on the U.S. electrical grid, a system it dubs “the most critical of critical infrastructure.” In preparation for its report, CSPC conducted a series of off-the-record discussions with experts from the government, the private sector, and the policy community that focused on discovering threats to the grid and how it can be better secured. CSPC’s final report, “Securing the U.S. Electrical Grid,” includes twelve recommendations for securing the grid based on the issues explored in those discussions. The recommendations, both for the short- and long-term, outline the “immediate action that can be taken by the White House, the Congress, and the private sector to mitigate current threats to the electrical grid.”

According to the report’s overall findings, the U.S. electrical grid “faces a multitude of threats and vulnerabilities…from a multitude of actors.” Some of these threats include cyberattack, physical attack, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), geomagnetic storm, and inclement weather. CSPC argues that in order to avoid overextending resources in an (ultimately futile) attempt to secure against all threats, the U.S. should employ a “comprehensive, risk-based approach” to grid security.

This comprehensive, risk-based approach requires the use of both short- and long-term strategies. A few of the short-term approaches mentioned in the report include urging Congress to codify structures for cybersecurity information sharing, making information sharing an automated process, and incorporating the insurance and financial industries into the business model for grid security investments. A few of the long-term approaches include asking Congress to explore better options for coordinating grid oversight and related legislation, building Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for improved grid security and resilience, and promoting a better understanding of grid security in conjunction with other critical infrastructures and supply chain on which the grid relies.

“Through responsible, pragmatic policies, the United States can build a cleaner, more efficient electrical grid, while also ensuring that consumers and companies have reliable, affordable electricity.” 

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