Cybersecurity Improvements, Rescinding Rules Welcomed by Energy CEOs

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By Rebecca Kern

Energy industry CEOs said industry-government partnerships to defend against cyber and physical attacks on the electric grid should continue in the new administration.

“The key to cybersecurity and physical security is a government-industry partnership, and it’s really got to be one that works,” Thomas Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, said at the Jan. 31 United States Energy Association’s annual State of the Energy Industry forum in Washington.

The industry comments came as President Donald Trump met with cybersecurity experts at the White House Jan. 31 to discuss an upcoming executive order that would direct each federal agency to be accountable for cybersecurity risks, according to White House pool reports.

Kuhn said it’s important for the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council to continue to operate under the Trump administration. The council is made up of electric power industry executives and serves to coordinate between the industry and federal government to protect the electricity grid from cyber and physical threats.

“For us, we want to continue to improve and maintain this partnership, and to build upon it,” he said.

Dave McCurdy, the president and CEO of the American Gas Association, which represents natural gas companies, said that the new administration will have to work with the private industry, since the latter owns 96 percent of the energy infrastructure.

“So government policy does have an impact there, and we need to be a part of that process, working with [National Institute of Standards and Technology], and others,” McCurdy said.

Likewise, both Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and Susan Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, which represent rural electric cooperatives and community-owned utilities, both supported the continuation of the industry/federal council.

Regulatory Overhaul

Separately, CEOs seemed generally receptive to an executive order Trump signed Jan. 30 intended to zero-out regulatory costs by eliminating two regulations for every new regulation issued.

Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, which represents the mining industry, said he was supportive of the order but noted its success is dependent upon how well the administration implements it.

“I think the ‘two-for-one'—while there are questions about how it gets implemented—is important because it puts some accountability in the system,” Quinn said. “It makes them go back through and do a retrospective review.”

AGA’s McCurdy also backed a review of past regulations before issuing more new regulations on industry.

“I have long thought we should have sunsetting provisions and a way to evaluate existing regulations,” he told Bloomberg BNA after the forum.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rKern@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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