On September 20, 2012, FERC announced that it has created a new Office of Energy Infrastructure and Security (“OEIS”).  FERC stated that OEIS will collaborate with the Office of Electric Reliability (“OER”) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation in order to identify and mitigate potential cyber and physical security risks to FERC-jurisdictional facilities.    

Chairman Jon Wellinghoff explained that “OEIS is an outgrowth of the growing potential for cyber security attacks and physical security risks such as an electromagnetic pulse event that necessitates a significantly more agile approach.”  Chairman Wellinghoff also stated that OEIS, which will operate as a stand-alone office at FERC, will be able to leverage and coordinate the existing resources of FERC, other government agencies, and private energy actors in a coordinated, focused manner.

According to the official FERC news release, OEIS will specifically be tasked with:

Developing recommendations for identifying, communicating and mitigating potential cyber and physical security threats and vulnerabilities to FERC-jurisdictional energy facilities using the Commission’s existing statutory authority;

  • Providing assistance, expertise and advice to other federal and state agencies, jurisdictional utilities and Congress in identifying, communicating and mitigating potential cyber and physical threats and vulnerabilities to FERC-jurisdictional energy facilities;
  • Participating in interagency and intelligence-related coordination and collaboration efforts with appropriate federal and state agencies and industry representatives on cyber and physical security matters related to FERC-jurisdictional energy facilities including, but not limited to, participating in conferences, workshops and classified briefings; and
  • Conducting outreach with private sector owners, users and operators of energy delivery systems regarding identification, communication and mitigation of cyber and physical threats to FERC-jurisdictional energy facilities.

Joseph McClelland, the former Director of OER since 2006, has been tapped to lead OEIS, while Ted Franks will replace McClelland to serve as the Acting Director of OER.

To access Chairman Wellinghoff’s full statement, click here.

To access FERC’s official news release, click here