Legislation Introduced to Address Vulnerabilities of Power Grid to Cyber Threats

by Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

Recently proposed federal legislation seeks to prevent and mitigate the impacts of cybersecurity attacks on the critical components of the Nation’s electrical infrastructure. In particular, the “SHIELD Act” aims to secure the bulk-power system and electrical infrastructure critical to the defense of the United States against the threat of a malicious electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or natural geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) that could cause widespread and long-lasting disruption, damage or destruction of electrical equipment. Other legislation proposes greater coordination among federal agencies in identifying and protecting against cyber threats, while seeking to safeguard privacy and civil liberties. These proposals are among other recent initiatives by the federal government to address the vulnerabilities of the power grid to cyber threats.


Introduced on February 11, 2011 by Congressman Trent Franks (R-Arizona), the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act (H.R. 668) (SHIELD Act) focuses on the threat posed by malicious EMPs (such as nuclear arms attacks) and natural GMDs (such as solar flares) to the physical reliability of the Nation’s electrical infrastructure. Similar to last year’s proposed Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act (GRID Act), the SHIELD Act would (among other things):

-Authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), upon identification of an imminent grid security threat arising from malicious EMPs or natural GMDs, to issue orders to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Regional Entities charged with enforcing the mandatory NERC Reliability Standards, and users, owners and operators of the bulk-power system to take emergency measures to protect the reliability of the bulk-power system and/or defense critical electric infrastructure;

-Authorize FERC to provide for cost recovery of “substantial costs” incurred in compliance with such emergency orders;

-Authorize FERC to issue rules or orders to protect against grid security vulnerabilities to malicious EMPs where FERC determines that the NERC Reliability Standards do not provide for sufficient protection; FERC’s rules or orders would be rescinded upon approval of a sufficient NERC Reliability Standard;

-Require NERC to propose, within one year, Reliability Standards addressing “reasonably foreseeable” EMPs and GMDs, based upon FERC’s specification of the “nature and magnitude” of such threats; such Reliability Standards would be required to balance the attendant risks and mitigation costs;

-Require NERC to propose, within two years, Reliability Standards addressing the availability of “large transformers” capable of restoring reliable operations after an EMP or GMD event; such Reliability Standards would be required to balance risks and costs and would require entities that own or operate large transformers to ensure adequate availability of large transformers in the event they are destroyed or disabled by an EMP or GMD occurrence; and

-Require the President to identify up to 100 critical defense facilities that would be subject to FERC rules and orders prescribing measures to take to protect against malicious EMPs, subject to the owners of the facilities agreeing to incur the costs necessary to comply with the FERC rules and orders.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.