Biden bulk-power system actions

Biden bulk-power system actions

June 15, 2021 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

The Trump bulk-power system order that barred the purchase or use of any Chinese or other “foreign adversary” equipment that might be used to harm the US power grid has expired.

The Biden administration is assessing whether to issue a replacement.

In the meantime, the US Department of Energy launched a 100-day joint effort in late April with utilities to try to harden the US utility grid against cyberattacks. The US energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, warned in an interview on CNN on June 7 that foreign adversaries have the ability to shut down sections of the US grid.

The department issued a separate request for information on April 20 asking for recommendations by June 4 about how best to balance “national security, economic and administrability considerations” in any new order that is issued to replace the Trump order.

It warned that “the government of the People’s Republic of China is equipped and actively planning to undermine the electric power system in the United States. The growing prevalence of essential electric system equipment being sourced from China presents a significant threat . . . .”         

The Trump DOE issued a prohibition order on December 17, 2020 barring the purchase of Chinese-made transformers and related equipment by utilities serving critical defense facilities.

The Biden administration revoked the prohibition order on April 20 to buy time to decide on a new approach. The new request for information said that consideration is being given to extending the scope of the prohibition to distribution facilities — the prohibition order applied to equipment that connects to the grid at 69 KV or higher — and not limiting the order to equipment that serves critical defense infrastructure but rather extending it to equipment serving “national critical functions.” (For earlier coverage, see “Trump bans certain power equipment” in the June 2020 NewsWire and “Trump bulk-power order stalled” in the February 2021 NewsWire.)