Trump bulk-power order stalled

Trump bulk-power order stalled

February 18, 2021 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

The Trump bulk-power system executive order has been suspended for 90 days as part of a day-one executive order that President Biden signed immediately upon taking office on January 25.

The suspension also extends to a prohibition order that the US Department of Energy issued in December barring the purchase of Chinese-made transformers and related equipment by utilities serving critical defense facilities.

Neither order is expected to be reinstated in its current form.

The May 1 Trump executive order barred power companies from buying, using or transferring any equipment supplied by foreign adversary companies that could be used to harm the US power grid.

The US Department of Energy used the authority in the executive order to issue its own order in mid-December prohibiting any “responsible utility” from acquiring, importing, transferring or installing certain Chinese equipment that is considered to come in contact with parts of the US utility grid that serve critical defense facilities.

The department sent notices to the affected utilities within five days after the prohibition order was issued.

The affected equipment is utility transformers with a low-side voltage of 69 KV and generator step-up transformers with a high-side voltage of 69 KV and associated control and protective equipment such as load tap changers, cooling systems and sudden pressure relays, circuit breakers operating at 69 KV or higher, reactors and capacitors at 69 KV or higher and associated software.

The order applies to any prohibited transaction initiated on or after January 16, 2021.

The affected equipment is equipment “manufactured or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of” the People’s Republic of China.

The department said it has determined that China is “equipped and actively planning to undermine” the US electricity grid as part of “system destruction warfare” aimed at crippling the ability of an opponent to respond at the start of any conflict.

It said Chinese companies providing goods to critical US supply chains can be compelled under Chinese law to provide intelligence to the Chinese government.

Each affected utility was supposed to notify the US Department of Energy by February 15 that it had taken steps to ensure that critical US defense facilities will retain priority status during periods the utility must shed electricity load, meaning temporarily cut off customers.

Each affected utility must certify to the department by March 17, 2021 and every three years thereafter that it has not entered into any prohibited transactions and that it has an internal monitoring process to track compliance with the order.