Take Your Pick

In the recent TechNewsWorld article by Richard Adhikari "Study: Electric Grid Needs Full-Time Cyberguard," I was quoted as saying "We would welcome a single authority." At the end of that sentence, I also said "whomever that may be: DOE, DHS, etc." Note that I wasn't favoring any agency over another. The discussion was in reference to a recent report released from MIT,"The Future of the Electric Grid."

It is certainly true that the legislative, regulatory and overall policy sands are shifting. The existing bulk power system security regulations (NERC CIP) are changing. Multiple federal agencies are competing for control over the authority for grid security. The Distribution system, with its deep relationship to the consumer side of the grid modernization (smart grid) push, is hotly contested between the State Commissions and the feds.

All of this confusion has a numbing effect the utility executives. They are traditionally risk averse to begin with, and the policy forecast essentially indicates a 70% chance of storms ahead. The unintended consequence is that many organizations will only do the bare minimum required to be compliant with today's regulation. It is difficult to justify dedicating resources to future efforts with the significant possibility that things could change and that money may have been wasted.

With all of this churn, yes, I do think that some focus and harmonization in the policy landscape would be a good thing. Who can do this best? Well, the jury is still out on that one. I think all of the proposed agencies have their pros and cons. Ask me again in a year or so.