U.S. Must Protect Power Grid From Cyberattack, MIT Study Shows

The threat of cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid  should be dealt with by a single federal agency, not the welter of groups now  charged with the electric system’s security, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported on Monday.

While acknowledging there is no absolute insurance  against such attacks, the MIT researchers said a single U.S. agency would be  better able to address the problem than the disparate federal, state and local  entities responsible for various aspects of safeguarding the power grid.

In a report on the future of the U.S. electric grid,  through 2030, the team recommended that the federal agency should work with  industry and have the appropriate regulatory authority to enhance cybersecurity preparedness, response and  recovery.

To cope with an expected increase in renewable  sources such as wind and solar power, where energy is often generated far from  the densely populated areas where it is used, the panel recommended granting  more authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to site transmission facilities that cross state  lines.

Other recommendations include:

– Utilities with advanced metering technology should  start the transition to customer prices that reflect the time-varying costs of  supplying power, to improve the grid’s efficiency and make rates lower.

– The electric power industry should fund research  and development in computational tools for bulk power systems, methods for  wide-area transmission planning, procedures for responding to cyberattacks and  models of consumer response to real-time pricing.

– To improve decision-making, more detailed data  about the bulk power system, results from “smart grid” demonstration projects  and other measures of utility cost and performance should be compiled and  shared.