NERC issues security bulletin

The North American Electric Reliability Council issued a security alert Friday, warning the electric power industry to be on extra guard for suspicious activity. NERC said the escalation of the alert level was driven by very general intelligence that did not specifically target the electric industry.

Kate Thomas
OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 14 -- The North American Electric Reliability Council issued a security alert Friday, warning the electric power industry to be on extra guard for suspicious activity.

NERC raised the security threat level a notch to medium from low. NERC is the electric power sector coordinator that helps ensure protection of the interconnected power systems of North America from "cyber" and physical attack, working closely with the National Infrastructure Protection Center and the FBI.

NERC said the escalation of the alert level was driven by very general intelligence that did not specifically target the electric industry. PJM Interconnection LLC, the grid operator for the mid-Atlantic states, said it would remain at Security Level 4 based on current system conditions. The grid operator asked system operators to remain vigilant for anything suspicious.

A PJM spokeswoman said the grid operator has maintained a "increased awareness" of security issues ever since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was unclear if PJM was specifically targeted by the warning, or if NERC issued a broader alert.

The world's largest wholesale electricity market administrator, PJM is responsible for about 8,000 miles of electric transmission facilities in parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, northern Virginia, and Washington, DC.

The government has periodically issued general warnings of possible threats to the US since the Sept. 11 attacks without specifying what the targets might be. PJM said it would initiate a conference call if further intelligence updates require the grid operator to raise the security level.

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