Recently, the National Association for State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) launched a new partnership designed to mitigate cybersecurity risks and consequences in solar energy developments.
NASEO represents the governor-designated state energy directors and their offices from each of the 56 states and territories. NARUC’s members include the governmental agencies engaged in the regulation of energy, telecommunications and water utilities. Carriers are in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
According to the two agencies, “The rapid growth and importance of solar energy has elevated the critical need among state-level decision makers to evaluate the potential cybersecurity implications of solar deployment and work with federal and private-sector stakeholders to mitigate those risks. Newer two-way communication technologies and remote grid support are revolutionizing how the grid operates, but also result in a system more exposed to cyber vulnerabilities.”
The partnership between the two associations is also receiving support from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Together, these organizations plan to create a project designed to leverage state, federal and private-sector expertise on cybersecurity, grid and photovoltaics to identify model solar-cybersecurity programs and actions for states to take in partnership with utilities and the solar industry.
“As energy systems become more integrated and cyber-connected, their vulnerability to malicious action grows,” said Andrew McAllister, a commissioner of the California Energy Commission and chair of the NASEO board of directors.
“Public utility commissions across the country have focused on the cybersecurity posture of utilities for decades, via state standards, management audits, critical infrastructure planning, and other initiatives,” said Gladys Brown-Dutrieuille, chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and chair of the NARUC Committee on Critical Infrastructure. “An increasing amount of solar energy technologies connected to distribution grids presents new cybersecurity concerns that energy stakeholders across all levels of government and the private sector need to collectively address.”
The project will use a state-led advisory group and dialogue with solar and cybersecurity experts to advance education, tools and access to technical assistance. The project will also seek to develop actionable solar cybersecurity strategies and roadmaps, as well as create stronger public-private partnerships and intra- and interstate cooperation for greater consumer and utility solar cybersecurity.