On March 2, 2023, the Biden administration unveiled a new National Cybersecurity Strategy that includes various initiatives to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from attacks. The White House strategy comes on the heels of several high-profile attacks on U.S. substations and at a time when federal regulators have placed increased focus on the security of the U.S. energy grid.
On February 16, 2023, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved two new North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standards: EOP-011-3 (Emergency Operations) and EOP-012-01 (Extreme Cold Weather Preparedness and Operations). The new standards stem from FERC and NERC’s joint inquiry into Winter Storm Uri — the February 2021 winter storm event that led to the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history, with over 4.5 million people losing power and at least 210 people losing their lives. The joint inquiry resulted in the issuance of a November 2021 report that included recommendations for NERC reliability standard enhancements to improve extreme cold weather operations, preparedness, and coordination. The November 2021 report found that the bulk power system “cannot operate reliability without adequate generation.”
A series of threats to the U.S. power grid have elevated physical grid security as a key concern for federal energy regulators. On December 15, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to reassess its existing security rules in light of recent grid attacks.