Electric Cooperatives Respond to Claims of Security Gap by Reps. Waxman and Markey

Arlington VA, May 21, 2013— Kirk Johnson, Sr. Vice President of Government Relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, issued the following statement in response to the report titled “Electric Grid Vulnerability: Industry Responses Reveal Security Gaps,” issued by Representatives Henry Waxman and Ed Markey.

All electric utilities, from the largest investor-owned to small rural cooperatives, face threats – the natures of which change daily. Alarmist rhetoric of Representatives Waxman and Markey aside, electric co-ops take threats to electric reliability and their members’ data seriously. Press statements such as the one issued this morning by Rep. Markey may generate headlines in an election year but do little to further the cause; they divide industry and government at a time when cooperation is in America’s best interest. We agree with NIST’s Dr. Patrick Gallagher who, in testimony offered before the committee today, stated that a strong industry-led approach offers the best defense against such threats. In an environment where the risks change rapidly, better information sharing and continuously updated training will do far more to protect the nation’s electric system than partisan fear mongering for political advantage.

The testimony offered by Dr. Gallagher and Duane Highley, President and CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas demonstrates the leadership role the electric cooperatives have taken to inculcate a culture of vigilance and cooperation among industry and government entities as we defend the nation’s electric grid against attack. We also applaud NERC for working closely with industry to implement a faster standards development process, improve cyber security standards and develop standards related to geomagnetic disturbances.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.