NRECA is encouraging electric cooperatives of all sizes to use this year’s GridEx, the national virtual reliability and security exercise, to test their incident response plans, crisis communications and overall awareness of cyber and physical threats.

Organized every two years by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and its Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, GridEx VII will take place Nov. 14-15.

The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal, state and local emergency, safety and law enforcement authorities will participate with hundreds of electric, water and telecom utilities and owners and operators of critical infrastructure, including dozens of generation and transmission co-ops and distribution co-ops.

“Electric co-ops have turned out in big numbers for GridEx over the years, and we urge them to continue to contribute to this important exercise as a means to strengthen the reliability, physical safety and cybersecurity of the grid,” said Carter Manucy, NRECA’s senior manager for cybersecurity.

Co-ops that are not E-ISAC members can join in by coordinating their participation with local utilities that are either members, regional NERC reliability coordinators or other registered entities.

“There are a variety of ways that even the smallest electric co-op can gain greater cyber maturity from some form of participation in GridEx,” Manucy said.

Past exercises have involved scenarios with massive power outages due to natural disasters, physical disruptions from bomb threats and hackers, active shooters, and mayhem caused by bad actors using social media.

“GridEx offers a variety of emergencies and threats to the grid, where everyone has a responsibility to protect it,” said Manucy. “It gives co-ops a chance to see where they fit in.”

See E-ISAC’s Grid Ex VII fact sheet for more information.