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Ensuring the Security of the United States’ Bulk-Power System

Security of the United States’ Bulk-Power System
Electricity is essential to our quality of life. In good economies and bad, in times of plenty and times of crisis, when we flip on the light switch, we trust the lights will come on, every time. Behind the scenes, utilities are working hard to safely and reliably deliver that electricity to America, and cyber security is an essential component of their operations and Itron’s.

To prevent the crippling impacts of malicious cyberattacks, President Trump issued an “Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System” on May 1, 2020. The executive order (EO) prohibits the procurement of bulk-power electrical equipment subject to the direction of a “foreign adversary.” Details are still unfolding as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to issue additional guidance and promulgate regulations for implementing this order over the next 150 days.

For providers of critical infrastructure, this EO should promote investments in cybersecurity and preparedness, which Moody’s Investors Service said is “credit positive” for electric utilities. In fact, Moody claims that this order may incite positive change, encouraging suppliers to invest in cybersecurity practices.

Since this EO could have implications for utilities and electrical equipment providers, Itron is actively tracking this issue and consulting with DOE and various industry trade associations to better understand the order’s jurisdictional reach.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Brouillette has said the Administration “will be looking to leverage domestic manufacturing opportunities as a way to strengthen the security of the bulk-power system.” As a U.S.-based company with domestic manufacturing, Itron does not expect to be significantly impacted by this EO. Generally, what we sell in America, we make in America.

At Itron, we agree that grid security is foundational to the reliable and resilient delivery of electricity in America, and this is an area where we are very focused. Itron works with third-party industry security experts, which has included efforts with DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, to ensure our products and services are assessed independently for security integrity and cyber resilience.

Reliable access to electricity is a vital service and ensuring the security of the electric grid is more essential now than ever.

We will provide updates on this EO as we learn more over the next 150 days.