Grid 20/20 Forum explores how industry can become more resilient to threats

By Paula DuPont-Kidd

The power grid is not powerless over situations that could threaten its reliability and resilience.

The message from nearly a dozen industry experts is that combatting threats to the power grid is a matter of constant vigilance and the power industry must build a culture of resilience. These experts addressed PJM’s Grid 20/20 Forum: Focus on Resilience in November in Philadelphia.

Terry Boston and Cheryl LaFleur

Terry Boston and Cheryl LaFleur

Opening remarks by PJM President and CEO Terry Boston (PDF) echoed the idea that the industry and the country must build a culture of resilience. That theme was also supported in remarks by keynote addresses from both Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur (PDF) and former Pennsylvania Governor and first U.S. Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge (PDF).

Tom Ridge

Tom Ridge

The forum focused on three panels:

  • robustness and the ability to absorb shocks and keep operating during a physical or cyber security event,
  • resourcefulness and the ability to manage a disruption as it unfolds and communication best practices and thirdly,
  • resilience and the ability to absorb the shock, develop lessons learned and get back to normal.

Personal responsibility

(L-R) Mark Johnson, Sherri Ramsay, Mike Smith, H. Kevin Strogan and Scott Heffentrager

(L-R) Mark Johnson, Sherri Ramsay, Mike Smith, H. Kevin Strogan and Scott Heffentrager

Sherry Ramsay (PDF), CyberPoint International, warned that sometimes we all are a little lax in creating strong passwords or using routers that have the original factory-setting security code. She said some companies have had their websites held for ransom and that more of this kind of activity is coming from nation-states.

H. Kevin Stogran

H. Kevin Stogran

Kevin Stogran (PDF), American Electric Power, described steps his company has taken along with others in the industry to create a Cyber Operations Center. He called for more industry-wide sharing of best practices. He said that companies can only control so much but the best way to be prepared was, “exercise, exercise, exercise.”

Speakers underscored the need to develop relationships with other industry partners and governing authorities before a crisis. Scott Aronson (PDF), Edison Electric Institute, said that good communication with the other responding authorities is key to good response coordination.

The presentations by the panelists are at grid2020.pjm.com.

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