H.R. 5026: GRID Act

H.R. 5026

GRID Act

Sponsor
Rep. Edward J. Markey

Date
June 9, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 5026 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, under suspension of the rules. The legislation was introduced by Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Fred Upton (R-MI) on April 14, 2010. The Committee on Energy and Commerce approved the bill by a vote of 47-0 on April 15, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5026 would authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to address threats to the U.S. electric grid with emergency orders and direct FERC to issue new regulations to protect against future vulnerabilities to the power grid.

Emergency Procedures:  H.R. 5026 would permit FERC to issue emergency measures to protect critical electrical infrastructure from a threat, if the president notifies FERC of any imminent grid security threat.  The emergency measures issued by FERC would apply to the electric reliability organization, a regional electric entity, or any owner, user or operator of the bulk-power system within the U.S.  The bill would permit FERC to create a mechanism to allow owners, operators or users of the bulk-power system to recover any "substantial costs" that are incurred as a result of complying with the emergency procedures in the event of a grid security threat.

The emergency measures would be effective for one year, unless the president or FERC issues a determination that measures are no longer needed to address any grid security threat.

Grid Reliability Standards:  The bill would allow FERC to issue regulations to protect against any grid security vulnerability that the agency determines has not been adequately addressed.  Such vulnerabilities would include cyber attacks or an electromagnetic pulse that would pose a substantial risk of disruption to the bulk-power system.  The measure also requires FERC to issue regulations that address a vulnerability in which an attacker could hack into the control system infrastructure connected to the electric grid and cause severe physical damage to the equipment.

Critical Defense Facilities:  The bill would direct the president to designate up to 100 facilities in the U.S. that are critical to defense and vulnerable to interruption of the supply of electricity.  If FERC determines that such facilities have not addressed vulnerabilities with respect to power interruptions, the agency would have the authority to issue regulations requiring that such vulnerabilities be addressed.

Protected Information:  H.R. 5026 would permit FERC to designate certain "protected information" that would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or under state or local disclosure laws.

Judicial Review:  H.R. 5026 specifies that any party seeking judicial review of provisions included in the bill would have to file legal actions in the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Technical Assistance:  The bill would direct the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to owners, operators and users of electrical systems to help protect the grid against attacks using electronic communication or electromagnetic pulse.

 

Background

The U.S. electric power grid consists of interconnected transmission lines, local distribution systems, generation facilities and related communications systems. The bulk-power system in the U.S. and Canada includes more than 200,000 miles of transmission lines and serves over 300 million people. According to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, concerns about the vulnerability of the electric grid have increased in recent years, particularly with respect to cyber-attacks.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the development of mandatory reliability standards for the bulk-power system, including standards addressing the potential for cyber-attacks. Under current law, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) designates an electric reliability organization, which then develops reliability standards that are subject to FERC approval. FERC has designated the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) as the electric reliability organization. FERC is responsible for enforcing the NERC standards.

 

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the version of H.R. 5026 being considered on the floor would have a "negligible effect on net direct spending over the 2010-2020 period."