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US House Energy Panel Approves Electricity Grid Security Bill

Mar 24, 2010 - Ian Talley, Dow Jones

A U.S. House of Representatives energy committee Wednesday approved a bill giving federal regulators greater authority to protect the nation's electricity infrastructure from attacks through the Internet.

The bill--which authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order utilities to take certain security measures--comes a day after the FERC chairman warned that cyber attacks were an "extremely serious threat."

"Right now, our electrical grid is vulnerable to threats from terrorists and hostile countries," said Rep. Ed Markey, (D., Mass.), who co-authored the bill. "Our adversaries have motive, intent, and the capacity to exploit these weaknesses," he said, adding that many of the nation's critical systems including water, healthcare, telecommunications, transportation, law enforcement, and financial services depend on the grid.

FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff told an Energy and Commerce subcommittee Tuesday, "It's critical that we address this threat as quickly as possible."

According to reports in The Wall Street Journal quoting senior intelligence officials, Chinese, Russian and other cyperspies have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid and left behind programs that could be used to disrupt the system. The Department of Homeland Security has also said hackers could use communications networks to physically destroy power plants.

-By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; (202) 862 9285; ian.talley@dowjones.com;


Updated: 2003/07/28