NERC warns of cybersecurity, reliability risks as it outlines strategy for adding tens of gigawatts of DER – Utility Dive




The strategy document serves as a roadmap, identifying milestones ahead as NERC develops its approach to growing volumes of distributed resources connected to the bulk power system.
DER levels are “rapidly growing across many areas of North America …  and are altering how the bulk power system is planned, designed and operated,” NERC said. NERC said it expects distributed solar capacity to grow by more than 30,000 MW between 2022 and 2031.
“This influx of DERs presents potential benefits as well as challenges for grid reliability, resilience and flexibility,” NERC noted. The reliability organization has been working with the electric sector to identify bulk power system reliability risks, and in support of that anticipates assessments from technical subgroups next year including:
The growth of distributed resources, along with the introduction of DER aggregation, will “present significant challenges for ensuring the security of the overall electricity ecosystem,” NERC said.
The U.S. Department of Energy, in an October report, concluded an attack on distributed solar or battery storage resources would have “negligible impact” on grid reliability today — but also warned that the capacity of DERs on the electric system is expected to quadruple by 2025 and each of those systems could be hacked.
“These entities are not presently subject to any of the NERC critical infrastructure protection standards or back-up control centers,” NERC said in its strategy document. “NERC is considering these possible risks in its actions related to DER aggregators.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has solicited input regarding potential new cybersecurity rules for DERs on the bulk electric system.
According to NERC, “the overall goal is for DERs to have adequate security controls and for the DER aggregator to be applicable to necessary operational standards when its aggregate impact affects the BES.”
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Topics covered: smart grid tech, clean energy, regulation, generation, and much more.
Utilities and grid operators are facing increasing threats from climate change as well as cyber and physical attacks, and are deploying a variety of responses to meet the rising challenges.
Company leaders say the tariff, which could become a template for actions in other states, was prompted by a growing number of corporate customers who said they needed access to renewable energy 24/7.
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