Oral Statement of Michehl R. Gent
President and Chief Executive Officer
North American Electric Reliability Council
THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR RESPONSE TO
THE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION CHALLENGE
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. Thank
you for the opportunity to discuss the electric utility industry's
response to the Critical Infrastructure Protection Challenge. My
name is Michehl R. Gent and I am President and CEO of the North
American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). NERC is a not-for-profit
organization formed after the Northeast blackout in 1965 to promote
the reliability of the bulk electric systems that serve North America.
We work with all segments of the electric industry ? investor-owned
utilities; federal power agencies; rural electric cooperatives;
state, municipal, and provincial utilities; independent power producers;
and power marketers ? as well as customers to "keep the lights
on." We do this by developing and encouraging compliance with
rules for the reliable operation of these systems. NERC's members
are the ten Regional Reliability Councils that account for virtually
all the electricity supplied in the United States, Canada, and a
portion of Baja California Norte, Mexico.
NERC has worked closely with the industry and the federal government
in areas relating to terrorism and sabotage of the electric systems
of North America. Since 1998, these activities have included cyber-terrorism.
Since the mid-1980s, NERC has served as the electric utility industry's
primary point of contact on a number of issues relating to national
security. We have been involved with the electromagnetic pulse phenomenon,
vulnerability of electric systems to state-sponsored sabotage and
terrorism, Year 2000 rollover impacts, and now the threat of cyber
terrorism. At the heart of our efforts is an ongoing commitment
to work with various federal government agencies such as the U.S.
National Security Council, U.S. Department of Energy, and Federal
Bureau of Investigation to reduce the vulnerability of interconnected
electric systems to such threats.
In September 1998, the U.S. Secretary of Energy asked for NERC's
assistance, on behalf of the electricity sector, in developing a
program for protecting the nation's critical electricity sector
infrastructure. We agreed to participate as the sector's coordinator.
A short time later, NERC and the electric industry started working
closely with the National Infrastructure Protection Center to develop
a voluntary, industry-wide physical and cyber security indications,
analysis, and warning reporting procedure. This program provides
NIPC with information that, when combined with other intelligence
available to it, will allow NIPC to provide the electric industry
with timely, accurate, and actionable alerts and warnings of imminent
or emerging physical or cyber attacks.
NERC and the industry have a long history of working with federal,
state, and local government agencies. For instance, in the 1980s
the NERC Board of Trustees resolved that each electric utility should
develop a close working relationship with its local Federal Bureau
of Investigation office, if it did not already have such a relationship.
The Board also directed NERC staff to establish and maintain a working
relationship with the FBI at the national level.
In my prepared testimony I discuss several critical infrastructure
protection programs that NERC participates in. They are the Critical
Infrastructure Protection Working Group; the Indications, Analysis,
and Warning Program; the Electricity Sector Information Sharing
and Analysis Center; Critical Infrastructure Protection Planning;
and the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security.
To expand of one of these programs, the Indications, Analysis and
Warnings Program reporting procedure is modeled on an existing electric
system disturbance reporting procedure that requires electric utilities
to report system disturbances that meet predefined criteria to the
U.S. Department of Energy. A pilot IAW program to include cyber
events was field tested in one NERC Regional Reliability Council
in the fall and winter of 1999/2000. The program was refined and
successfully rolled out to the industry during workshops held in
the fall and winter of 2000/2001. Currently, NERC is developing
a comprehensive communications program to bring the IAW program
to the attention of those industry entities that were not able to
participate in the workshops.
In conclusion, I would like to say that NERC is very satisfied
with the close working relationship that we have with NIPC and with
other Federal agencies, and we have every expectation of continuing
and building upon these relationships in the future.
I look forward to your questions.