Energy distribution firms want stronger smart grid security

The government's roll out of a smart grid energy network needs a more thorough and "coherent" look at security, according to an official report.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) - whose members are responsible for putting in the pipes and wires that support the national electricity and gas supply - was tasked by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to come up with recommendations to increase the security of "smart grids".

ENA commissioned consultancy KEMA to draw up its "UK Smart Grid Cyber Security Report". The report considers how government and the networks companies should develop a strategy to secure the future UK electricity infrastructure together.

The report found that although plans for distribution network operators and government "are rigorous", a more "coherent and joined-up approach on security is needed to meet concerns of the future".

Energy Networks Association chief executive David Smith said, “We are keen to work with government and Ofgem so that cyber security is not a sub-project but reflects the risks posed to critical infrastructure we depend upon so much.”

The report says that on a national level "cyber security should be considered from a collaborative national perspective industry wide". It calls for the establishment of a national risk assessment process to "manage, inform and drive UK smart grid activities".

Organisations responsible for running the regional power grids - the "distribution network organisations" (DNOs) - "should develop an operational security management system to bring cyber security under the explicit control of management", says the report.

The DNOs should also consider a technology change management strategy to address cyber security, and "establish gaps in current practices", says the report.

ENA said, "The report comes just weeks before a newly formed taskforce will bring together the energy networks and government security advisers to discuss how the future influx of IT and communications on the grid will be protected."

Energy minister Charles Hendry said: "The UK is taking action now, investing in smart grid development and planning for the future. This report will prove to be an important contribution to making sure our electricity grid infrastructure remains secure.

"The government will shortly publish a high level strategy for the development of the smart grid as part of the forthcoming white paper on electricity market reform.”

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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