NRECA is working to determine how electric cooperatives will be impacted by a new Department of Energy ban on the purchase or installation of foreign equipment for the bulk power system.

“We are reviewing DOE’s order and its implications for our members,” said Stephanie Crawford, NRECA senior regulatory manager. “Electric cooperatives remain committed to protecting the nation’s grid and ensuring a reliable and secure supply of electricity. NRECA will continue to work closely with DOE on these shared priorities.”

The ban, which goes into effect on Jan. 16, is part of the DOE’s response to the 2020 White House executive order to secure the national bulk power supply system. It covers certain electric utilities that own or operate “defense critical electric infrastructure” as defined by the Federal Power Act and serve “critical defense facilities” designated by the secretary of Energy.

By March 17, 2021, these utilities must certify their compliance and set up a process to track future equipment transactions. This certification must be renewed every three years. Violators could be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

NRECA believes that the DOE order will impact a subset of its members, specifically some co-ops serving military installations. Utilities subject to the order were being notified individually by DOE via certified mail.

Transactions prohibited by the order involve acquiring, importing, transferring or installing specific bulk power system equipment of 69 kilovolts or higher that are manufactured in China or supplied by persons or businesses subject to China’s jurisdiction.

Equipment regulated under the order includes power transformers and generator step-up transformers that have control and protection systems such as load tap changers, cooling systems and sudden-pressure relays. Also covered are circuit breakers, reactive power equipment and associated software and firmware installed to support the banned equipment.