The House of Representative this week voted to approve a collection of bills that aim to improve cybersecurity in the energy sector, inform the use of emerging technologies, and establish R&D plans.

Topping the list is the Grid Security Research and Development Act (H.R. 5760) that would “provide for a comprehensive interdisciplinary research, development, and demonstration initiative to strengthen the capacity of the energy sector to prepare for and withstand cyber and physical attacks.”

The legislation would have the Department of Energy (DOE) establish R&D plans with the National Science Foundation and Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, and create a best practices list with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The bill was introduced back on February 5, 2020 by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., and cosponsored by Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas.

The approved House bill was sent to the Senate, and assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Other energy-sector bills approved by the House this week include:

  • R. 359, which would direct DOE to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships to address and mitigate physical and cybersecurity risks of electric utilities. The House-approved bill has been sent to the Senate and placed on the Senate legislative calendar.
  • R. 360, a bill requiring the Secretary of Energy to establish a voluntary Cyber Sense program that would test the cybersecurity of products and technologies meant for the bulk-power system. The House bill was sent to the Senate and assigned to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  • R. 362, a bill that amends the DOE Organization Act by adding new language to increase Assistant Secretary responsibilities related to energy infrastructure cybersecurity, emerging threats, supply, and emergency planning, coordination, response, and restoration. The House-approved bill also was assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.