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Protecting the Texas Electric Grid: A Cybersecurity Strategy for ERCOT and the PUCT

  • Author(s): Stanaland, L;
  • Baldick, R;
  • Cardenas, AA;
  • Holmes, J
  • et al.
Abstract

The electrical system serves as the fundamental base of a country's economic activity, and it is therefore, a likely target for cyberattacks. As the modern economy continues its evolution towards greater digitization and interconnectedness, policymakers must outline and enforce regulations protecting those critical assets, without which the economy would suffer. The Texas Interconnection, due to being independently operated and to a large-extent legislated by the state of Texas, enjoys a simpler regulatory environment than its national counterparts. We exploit this relative independence to offer policy solutions to better protect Texas against a cyberattack on its electric grid. Specifically, ERCOT and the PUCT have the authority and ability to streamline and simplify the potentially confusing protocols enforced by NERC to make adoption more likely. We also discuss grant programs for smaller utilities and the role of cyber-insurance in helping utilities navigate the difficulties in understanding the protocols so that compliance can occur.

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