On Nov. 18-19, more than 350 organizations and 3,000 participants from across the electric utility industry and federal and state governments participated in the North American Reliability Corp.'s industry-wide grid security and incident response exercise, GridEx III. The two-day exercise was designed to enhance the coordination of cyber and physical security resources and practices within the industry, as well as communication with government partners and other stakeholders, including those in Canada and Mexico. The biennial exercise gives participants the opportunity to self-assess their emergency response and recovery plans through a simulated exercise that takes place across North America.
"A reliable supply of electricity is critical to our economic and national security, and protecting the nation's electric grid is a top priority for all electric utilities," said EEI president Tom Kuhn. "Electric utilities have a strong record of working with each other and with the government to plan for a variety of emergency situations that could impact the grid. With thousands of individuals participating from across the industry and government, including utility CEOs and senior administration officials, GridEx III clearly illustrated the industry and government's commitment to making the grid more secure and resilient."
"The electric utility industry and government must work together constantly to prepare for, assess, and respond to ever-evolving threats to the electric grid," said Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president, and CEO of Southern Company, and co-chair of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC). "Since GridEx II in 2013, the electric utility industry has strengthened its coordination with the government through the ESCC to better prepare for and respond to national security threats to the grid. GridEx III provided another opportunity for industry and government to test their plans and identify lessons learned that will inform our response to future threats."
The ESCC serves as the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric utility industry, with the mission of coordinating efforts to prepare for, and respond to, national-level disasters and threats to critical infrastructure. Electric utility CEOs, trade association leaders representing all segments of the industry, NERC, the Electricity-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC), and senior Administration officials from the White House; the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Defense; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and national security organizations make up the ESCC-government partnership.