GridEx: How NYISO Joins the Nation to Promote Grid Security
Every two years, the nation’s largest grid security exercise, GridEx, is conducted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). GridEx is a grid security simulation that takes place across North America, allowing utilities and organizations such as the NYISO to test their response to and recovery from simulated, coordinated, cyber and physical security threats and incidents.
GridEx is one of many efforts the NYISO undertakes to maintain grid reliability in the face of cyberattacks and other threats. We have a comprehensive program to address physical and cybersecurity risks. These programs draw from both industry standards and mandatory NERC guidelines. NERC is a regulatory authority that oversees the reliability and security of the energy grid in North America.
We protect our critical infrastructure assets with a variety of processes, technology and skilled staff. We also routinely collaborate with state and federal government and law enforcement, along with other ISOs and industry partners around the continent. Our physical and cybersecurity measures far exceed NERC requirements.
During GridEx, about 60 NYISO staff will take part directly, but response simulations involve thousands of participants. The exercise will include staff from IT and operations at NYISO. In addition, members of NYISO’s corporate communications team will engage in crisis exercises.
Around New York and the surrounding regions, numerous utilities, industry stakeholders, governments and other critical infrastructure partners will be participating in the exercise. Officials from the N.Y. State Police, the Office of the Governor, the N.Y. State Public Service Commission and the Northeast Power Coordinating Council will observe the event.
During the last GridEx in 2017, more than 6,500 participants representing 450 organizations took part around the United States. This is the fifth GridEx since the program was launched in 2011.
What is learned from these exercises? Thanks to GridEx, participants can practice and improve responses to security events, communication channels between participants, and apply lessons learned to improve response plans.
GridEx is just one of several security events that have taken place this fall at our site. On November 5, a terrorism awareness program put on by the New York City Police Department discussed detecting and deterring potential terrorist activity, as well as how to take action during an attack. In September, the NYISO hosted a federal Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity training exercise that attracted more than 60 participants in the energy sector. The training exercises offered participants the opportunity to test their knowledge while working with their peers from across the state in a competitive and challenging learning environment.