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ISO New England resiliency report to FERC warns fuel security at risk
New England delivered a grid resiliency report to federal regulators that may not directly concur with Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s call for price supports for coal and nuclear energy, but it certainly shares many of his gravest concerns over a future grid devoid of on-site stored fuels.

In one of the first reports sent by regional transmission organizations/independent system operators (RTO/ISO) expressed a warning that mass retirements of coal and nuclear energy were going to put the grid under dangerous future strain. Renewables and energy efficiency efforts can help mitigate that danger, the ISO-NE report noted, but it would take massive investment, infrastructure and also importing of additional capacity to stave off potential load shedding and other unwanted actions.

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post-courierFeds seek resiliency to protect electric grid from cyberwar

Electricity is the sexiest thing you can’t see. It’s the tie that binds modern society together; makes life comfortable, even livable; and keeps everything humming, from computers to production lines. Without it civil disorder and a swift descent into hard-to-imagine chaos. Just look at Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, then start multiplying.

Electricity comes to us courtesy of the grid — or as Jim Cunningham, executive director of Protect Our Power, explains, the generating stations, high-voltage transmission lines, poles, wires, substations, transformers and meters that make up the matrix known as the grid.

The oft-mentioned “smart grid” is the use of sophisticated metering and measuring technologies, close to the point of use, which increase efficiency and manage the troughs and peaks in electricity demand. At 2 a.m., there’s less demand than at 6 p.m. But if you can move some demand to that slack period, efficiency increases both for the electric consumer and the electric provider. Win-win.

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bulletin How do we make the electrical grid more resilient?
This week, a US federal commission said “no” to a proposed rule that would have paid a premium to coal and nuclear power plants. The rule, put forward by Energy Secretary Rick Perry with the goal of protecting the electricity grid from power outages, was controversial. Critics said it unfairly favored two flailing industries over renewable energy. Perry argued, though, that only power plants capable of storing at least 90 days’ worth of fuel onsite—in other words, coal and nuclear—are reliable enough to keep the US grid resilient through the worst winter storms.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, composed of five Trump-appointed commissioners, unanimously rejected Perry’s proposal. But the fact is, he was right about at least one thing: The US electrical grid does have a resiliency problem, and is periodically at risk of plunging millions of Americans into frozen darkness. Perry’s proposal wasn’t perfect, but it could have mitigated the risk. With his idea off the table, how should energy providers and regulators think about bolstering the system? To answer that question, it helps to understand how heat and electricity are delivered.

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vice North Korea has built a team of hackers that could hit U.S. power grids
North Korean hackers have been accused of orchestrating some of the most high-profile cyber attacks of recent years — including the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Now Pyongyang’s state-backed hackers are shifting focus to critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants and oil refineries, according to researchers at Dragos cybersecurity firm. 

The latest threat comes from hacking group “Covellite,” which was spun out of the state-backed hacker group Lazarus, known for allegedly conducting some of the most high-profile cyber attacks of recent memory.

Researchers from Dragos said they were able to link the new group to Pyongyang because the hackers used many of the same cyber weapons and servers tracked in the attack on Sony Pictures in 2014. Dan Gunter, the company’s principal threat analyst, told VICE News that the shift in focus towards critical systems marked an escalation from Pyongyang:

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