Pennsylvania

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Power Companies Weigh Threat Of Cyberattacks On Electric Grid

Ten years after a blackout impacted 50 million North Americans, energy companies weighing future threats, like cyberattacks.

Weng Xinyang (ybg) XINHUA /LANDOV

Ten years after a blackout impacted 50 million North Americans, energy companies weighing future threats, like cyberattacks.

A decade has passed since the massive 2003 blackout which plunged 50 million people in North America into the dark.

Although that wasn’t caused by a cyberattack, NPR reports power company executives met recently in Washington D.C. to talk about vulnerabilities to the grid:

The concern now is that a really sophisticated cyberattack could cause a blackout bigger than anything yet seen in North America. Congress has considered various bills that would require power companies to beef up their protection against cyberattack and impose mandatory security standards.

A survey of electric utilities earlier this year, directed by Reps. Edward Markey (now a U.S. senator) and Henry Waxman, found that most of the companies had failed to implement voluntary cybersecurity standards recommended by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., an industry organization.

Attempts to legislate mandatory cybersecurity standards have been rebuffed, however, in part because the power industry opposed them.

According to the federal Energy Information Administration, Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in electricity generation –most of it comes from coal and nuclear power.

A pair Western Pennsylvania coal plants may not close down as scheduled this October, due to concerns the loss of power could impact the reliability of the grid.

 

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