National standards keep grid secure

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is not a household name, but it certainly is commonplace in the electric utility industry.

NERC is a regulatory authority responsible for ensuring the reliability of the bulk electric system in North America. To ensure Great River Energy’s members continue to receive secure and reliable electric service, the cooperative works with NERC and other utilities to develop reliability standards related to physical and cybersecurity, among other things.

Cybersecurity

Great River Energy is working with utilities, government agencies and other organizations to address the rising risk of cyber attacks and taking reasonable precautions to prepare for a cyber attack. NERC has developed effective, mandatory cybersecurity standards to help protect the bulk electric system and Great River Energy has committed to compliance since the rules were introduced in 2005.

The organization conducts periodic cyber intrusion scenario drills, which allow Great River Energy to test emergency response plans and communication protocols.

Physical security

Threats like natural disasters, vandalism and terrorist attacks also are high on the list of topics being discussed among regulators, government officials and utilities. With that, reliability standards for maintaining the physical security of substations and power lines have become more stringent. Great River Energy is committed to compliance and taking steps to help bolster the security of its facilities and infrastructure.

Most recently, Great River Energy implemented new security procedures that add an additional level of scrutiny to those who can physically enter Great River Energy facilities deemed “critical infrastructure” by NERC. Employees in certain positions also were required to complete additional training.