U.S. electric utilities are regulated by state public utility commissions (PUCs). In fact, not much can or does happen with a utility that is not sanctioned or required by the state’s PUC.
When the national organization that represents PUC members sets goals and priorities, it is important for utilities to be aware. Recently, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) held its annual meeting and elected its new president for 2020.
Newly elected president Brandon Presley is one of three commissioners from the Mississippi Public Utilities Commission. His theme for 2020 is bridging the divide. One of the elements involves helping to ensure that all underserved communities benefit from modern utility services¾that is bridging the divide between urban, suburban and rural communities in terms of access to resources, training and technology.
Cybersecurity issues will be more important for NARUC in 2020. Outgoing president Nick Wagner announced a new collaboration with federal partners, including the Department of Energy, “to address the regulatory challenges to comprehensive implementation of cybersecurity measures in the bulk power and distribution-level electric systems.” In other words, NARUC will be focused on streamlining the efforts of the state PUCs to facilitate new cybersecurity measures.
Presley echoed Wagner’s words by identifying cybersecurity as a priority and working to ensure that all state commissioners receive training on cybersecurity and classified training on cyber threats.
Recently, Presley met with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) representatives to discuss an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure consistent cybersecurity training for commissioners. “We have many commissioners who have not gone through the one-day classified cybersecurity training,” he said. “I want to revamp and strengthen the program that brings in commissioners for the training in conjunction with FERC.”