Regulatory Courage Required
Brien J. Sheahan was appointed Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission by Gov. Bruce Rauner and will serve a five-year term. Sheahan chairs the Presidential Task Force on Innovation for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). Sheahan at the ICC established a first of its kind Office of Cybersecurity and Risk Management and Office of Diversity and Community Affairs.
Dominic Saebeler is the first Director of the ICC’s Office of Cyber Security and Risk Management, focusing on cybersecurity awareness, best practice adoption and assessment of industry capabilities and levels of preparedness. Dominic’s focus has been on the intersection of policy, security, technology, and law.
Wei Chen Lin is Policy Advisor in the Office of Cybersecurity and Risk Management at the ICC where he works closely with public and private entities to drive risk awareness, promote knowledge and best practice sharing, and encourage coordination, as well as design and participate in productive exercises. He is member of the Staff Subcommittee on Critical Infrastructure of NARUC and an editorial board member of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Review.
The recent reports describing the profound risk of catastrophic power outages, the vulnerability of computer hardware and communications equipment to tampering during design and manufacturing, and the penetration of utility SCADA systems by Russian hackers highlight the criticality of supply chain integrity.
The combination of these revelations exposes dangerous gaps in regulatory oversight created by the fragmentation of authority between state and federal governments and discordance among federal agencies charged with protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from nation-state and other attacks. Technical and policy solutions exist but will require appropriate resources, political will, and regulatory courage to achieve.
In December 2018 the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council, in the report "Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage," warned that the power grid is a prime target and studied the consequences of a widespread power outage of two to six months.
To put the consequences of a long-term outage in perspective, ten years ago the Electromagnetic Pulse Commission predicted that a one-year power outage could result in the deaths of hundreds of millions of Americans; estimates range from two-thirds to ninety percent of the population.