NRECA Releases “Interoperability and Cyber Security Plan”

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today releases an “Interoperability and Cyber Security Plan” (ICSP) developed by the Cooperative Research Network (CRN) for cooperatives participating in a nation-wide smart grid demonstration project. The ICSP lays out specific steps and a continuous process improvement plan for the cooperatives as well as the vendor community to meet evolving federal and industry standards.

This first comprehensive approach to advancing cyber security at the distribution utility-level responds to a requirement by the Department of Energy, which is providing $33.9 million in matching funds for the demonstration project. “This plan represents a critical first step that starts with a recognition of the real world circumstances of rural cooperatives who have been out in front on smart grid development, pioneering a broad range of new technologies that can help keep electric bills affordable for consumers,” said Ed Torrero, director of the Cooperative Research Network. “Prior to deploying more than 150,000 new components, participating co-ops will adapt this plan to their own situation, implementing best practices and continuous process improvement to help improve their security posture during and beyond the life of the project,” Torrero said. Components of the ICSP: * CRN, working with the co-ops and Cigital and Cornice Engineering, mapped the utility and data flows to create a working picture of the smart grid for utilities. The map identifies existing federal and industry standards corresponding to each interface. * NRECA believes interoperability is key to improving security: only with increased standardization can we create tests to determine whether software and hardware are secure. To increase interoperability, NRECA plans to expand the number of interfaces included in its MultiSpeak® standard by fifty percent. * NRECA will use the purchasing power and the RFP process (more than $42 million will be spent on components) to push for more secure technologies. * In an environment where security threats and standards are in continual flux, participating cooperatives will implement continuous process improvement with regard to cyber security. The Regional Smart Grid Demonstration Project: In August, the Department of Energy approved a $33.9 million matching grant to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to conduct a portfolio of research projects at eighteen electric cooperatives in ten states across the country. The projects focus on distribution automation and demand-side management technologies and include a test of end-to-end demand management. Each project tests the value of the new technologies for cooperative consumer members. Participating cooperatives include: * Adams Electric Cooperative (IL) * Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative (WI) * Clarke Electric Cooperative, Inc. (IA) * Corn Belt Power Cooperative (IA) * Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association (Corn Belt Power Member, IA) * Humboldt County Rural Electric Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member, IA) * Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member, IA) * Prairie Energy Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member, IA) * Delaware County Electric Co-op (NY) * Flint EMC (GA) * Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (HI) * Menard Electric Cooperative (IL) * New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NH) * Owen Electric Cooperative, Inc. (KY) * Salt River Electric Cooperative (KY) * Snapping Shoals EMC (GA) * United REMC (IN) * Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative (LA) The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.