DOE starts implementing Trump bulk-power system order

DOE starts implementing Trump bulk-power system order

August 19, 2020 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

A US Department of Energy request for information to help it implement the Trump bulk-power system order identifies six foreign adversaries against which the order is directed.

It also hints, through the questions it asks, at what might soon become best practices in the power industry.

The order imposed an immediate ban as of May 1, 2020 on the purchase, use or transfer of as-yet unidentified foreign adversary equipment that might be used to harm the US power grid. (For more detail, see “Trump bulk power system order: Market reaction” in the June 2020 NewsWire.)

The Department of Energy said in July that the six foreign adversary countries whose equipment is suspect are China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela and that two of the countries – China and Russia — already have the ability to shut down US pipelines and the electricity grid.

The department asked for information about the following types of equipment: transformers, reactors, capacitors, circuit breakers and “generation (including power generation that is provided to the [bulk power system] at the transmission level and back-up generation that supports substations.” It said the transformers on which it is focused have a low-side voltage of 69 kilovolts or higher.

It suggested that utilities can use a model on the DOE website to assess their supply-chain vulnerability to cybersecurity threats. The model can be found at the following link:

The department had previously said that the request for information would be used to collect input to help inform a later process to vet suppliers’ equipment.

One question coming up in deals is whether equipment at projects that connect to distribution lines rather than the transmission grid are potentially affected by the order. The answer is probably not, but the answer is still unclear. The Department of Energy declined to draw such a clear line in a set of frequently asked questions and answers in June