The U.S. House has approved the GRID Act. The President would gain new powers over the U.S. electrical grid under a bill the House of Representatives OKed June 9. The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act would permit the President to order immediate emergency measures to protect the reliability of the bulk-power system or defend critical electric infrastructure against an imminent grid security threat. The GRID Act passed the House on voice vote; it now lies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would also have the Federal Energy Regulation Commission issue a rule within 180 days requiring high-voltage electric transmission companies to address the so-called Aurora vulnerability. In 2006, the Homeland Security Department staged a test dubbed “Aurora” at the Idaho Energy Laboratory that demonstrated that an attacker could hack into the control system of an electric generator, causing severe physical damage to the equipment. The bill’s accompanying report complains that the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the bulk power industry’s self-regulatory organization, has been slow to react to grid security concerns. NERC has yet to propose a reliability standard to address an Aurora vulnerability and NERC critical infrastructure protection standards apply only to owners and operators who self-identify their assets as critical, the report adds.

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