NRECA is working to safeguard electric cooperatives’ investments and operations from the impact of a new executive order issued by the White House authorizing the Department of Energy to prohibit grid devices from foreign countries deemed a threat to national security.
DOE now has 150 days to publish implementing rules and regulations, according to the
May 1 executive order.
The order covers critical infrastructure, including substations, control rooms, or power generating stations, substation transformers and industrial control systems.
DOE is setting up a task force to establish a process for federal procurements. The task force must provide a report within one year from the date of the order. The department also is expected to publish a “pre-qualified” vendor list and identify whether any existing equipment should eventually be replaced.
“NRECA will work closely with DOE to learn more about the order’s implications and ensure that the agency fully considers any cost and supply chain impacts that could adversely impact electric cooperatives in their important mission to provide affordable, reliable power,” said Stephanie Crawford, NRECA senior regulatory issues manager.
During a May 7 call with stakeholders, DOE said it would “surgically” and “strategically” look at replacing bulk power system (BPS) equipment rather than take a wholesale approach. DOE did not discuss the distribution power system, although the order calls for a task force to study how this infrastructure could be exploited.
DOE said no BPS equipment presently deployed is prohibited and that any replacements would follow a deliberate process. To be considered for replacement, the equipment would have to be critical infrastructure that involved a foreign adversary, the department said.
“We were pleased to hear from DOE that there would be no wholesale replacement of the BPS,” Crawford said. “But we will stay involved to see how the order might impact distribution equipment.”
NRECA is recommending that co-ops that serve Department of Defense facilities through the BPS may want to review key assets on their systems.
Co-ops serve more than 90 military bases and other DOD facilities in 38 states, according to NRECA research. They also own, operate and maintain the electric distribution grid at 24 military installations—bases and other facilities—through their utility privatization contracts.
Crawford said NRECA will engage directly with DOE leadership as the department forms a process to carry out this order.
“We will ask questions important to co-ops and share those answers with our members on a timely basis,” she said.