The House of Representatives approved a bill July 19 that aims to improve electric power grid infrastructure cybersecurity by using public-private partnerships. The bill was passed by voice vote under suspension of the rules.

The Enhancing Grid Security Through Public-Private Partnerships Act directs the Department of Energy to oversee and encourage public-private partnerships to improve the cybersecurity of electric utilities.

Among other things, the bill would direct “sharing of best practices and data collection, along with providing training and technical assistance to electric utilities in order to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks,” its sponsors said.

The bill was initially introduced by Reps. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., at the end of April. The measure was referred to the full House by the Committee on Energy and Commerce July 19 after working its way through the committee.

With a dramatic increase in cyberattacks over the last year and a half, electric grid cybersecurity has become increasingly important. In March, the Government Accountability Office released a report saying that the electric grid is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.  Lawmakers are working on a much larger effort to improve security as part of a bipartisan compromise infrastructure bill that includes $73 billion for improved power infrastructure.

The grid security bill cleared by the House this week also was approved in the last session of Congress, but was never taken up by the Senate.  The current House bill does not appear to have a Senate companion measure.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.