This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 16, 2010

Study by DOE, NERC Examines High-Impact Risks to the U.S. Power Grid

Although some high-impact risks to the U.S. electrical grid are so rare that they have not yet occurred, they have the potential to significantly affect the grid's reliability, according to a new report from DOE and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). The report examines three types of threats to the power grid: coordinated cyber and physical attacks, pandemics, and electromagnetic disturbances, including geomagnetic disturbances and electromagnetic pulses. While the report notes that certain protections and mitigations are already in place to address these risks, it is also meant to help the electric sector, utility regulators, and the federal government to further prepare for the potential threats.

The 120-page report identifies 19 "Proposals for Action" directed to NERC, DOE, the electric industry, and nearly 15 government agencies and non-governmental organizations across North America. These proposals are designed to guide ongoing efforts to more fully address these risks, laying a strong foundation for future action. The proposals provide important insights into the issues facing the electric sector, focusing on the need for more effective public-private partnerships, better information sharing, expanded research and development activities, and prioritized protection of key nodes on the system. See the NERC press release.