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Fortnightly Magazine - January 2008

Cyber Attack! CIP Goes Live

Utilities are gearing up for cyber security compliance. Will the standards prove worthy?

Michael T. Burr

The NERC CIP standards represent an historic achievement. They include the first mandatory cyber security requirements of their kind to be imposed on a U.S. private-sector industry. Considering the scope and sensitivity of the grid-security issue, developing a set of enforceable standards inevitably would entail a complex and contentious process. From that perspective, NERC, FERC and the industry have made remarkable progress, and their efforts deserve accolades.

Cyber Attack! - Defining 'Critical Assets'

ERCOT utilities approach CIP compliance from varying perspectives

Scott M. Gawlicki

As proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the new critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards charge utilities with identifying their own critical assets and related cyber systems. This approach allows great flexibility for utilities to apply the CIP standards to their particular situations. This will help ensure that their efforts focus on securing critical assets, rather than on complying with an overly prescriptive set of mandates that might or might not yield a secure grid.

Cyber Attack! - Lessons Learned: Aurora Attack

Test gets major media hype, but SCADA vulnerabilities remain

Lori A. Burkhart

A simulated attack, named the Aurora Generator Test, took place in March 2007 by researchers investigating supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system vulnerabilities at utility companies. The experiment involved hackers invading the plant’s control system to change the operating cycle of the generator.

Cyber Attack! - Smart-Grid Security

Intelligent power grids present vexing cyber security problems

Michael T. Burr

In a world where streetlights can be used as a weapon, controlling local utility networks becomes more than just a matter of public convenience and necessity. It becomes a matter of public safety and even national security. And in that world, the idea of an inter-networked, automated distribution grid poses troubling questions about cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

California: Mandating Demand Response

California’s load-management experience argues for formal DR standards

Jackalyne Pfannenstiel and Ahmad Faruqui

California hopes to reap $3 billion in benefits from demand response over the next 20 years. Maximizing the potential may require the California Energy Commission to exert its statutory authority. CEC’s chair co-authors.

Duke's Fifth Fuel

Conservation investments benefit participants and non-participants alike

Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D.

For-profit energy efficiency programs are coming. Duke Energy proposes to align the interests of shareholders and retail customers within an expanded least-cost approach. Convincing regulators will require taking a holistic view of the costs and benefits.

What Price, Security?

Grid reliability depends on ‘reasonable business judgment’

Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief

The word “security” no longer means what it used to mean. Now, “security” means gates, guards and guns. It means protecting critical assets with a multi-layered cyber and physical perimeter. It means exercising vigilance and caution, and accepting inconvenience as a matter of routine.

Letters to the Editor

Before the hearings started, I felt the number of critical cyber assets for a medium size utility would be on the order of several thousand, not 20 as some major utilities are identifying under the CIP standards. This should be a red flag for the industry.

Texas Ring Fence

TXU’s buyout structure creates a potential model for utility M&A and refinancing deals

Terry A. Pratt

2007 was a big year for TXU Corp., as it went private in the largest leveraged buyout in history. To sweeten the deal for environmentalists and regulators, TXU made structural and financial concessions. Now TXU’s ring-fencing structure might become a template for future utility M&A and refinancing deals.

Setting the Standard

NERC’s new cyber security rules may minimize cost of compliance, but they leave utilities guessing on how to identify risks.

Bruce W. Radford

Liam Baker, vice president for regulatory affairs at US Power Generating, questions whether his company’s power plants and control systems in New York and Massachusetts must comply with the electric industry’s new mandatory standards for cyber security. Baker voiced his doubts in written comments he filed in October with FERC.

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