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Canadian utilities test their readiness and resilience at GridEx III


November 19, 2015 – The Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) reports electric utilities from across Canada were among the thousands of participants in GridEx III, which served to test the readiness of the North American electricity sector’s crisis action and communications plans, and to strengthen response and recovery capabilities following a catastrophic emergency.

The two-day continent-wide security exercise was conducted by NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corp.), and consisted of a simulated coordinated cyber and physical attack scenario, which modelled widespread damage to the interconnected grid. Over the course of two days, participating utilities responded to a chain of simulated incidents and threats, which stressed internal and external operations and communications.

NERC’s GridEx program is best-in-class among critical infrastructure sectors for testing resilience in the face of a severe emergency,” said Sergio Marchi, CEA president & CEO. “The robust involvement of CEA members in GridEx is a testament to their ongoing commitment to safeguarding the electric grid, and by extension, the security and quality of life for Canadians.”

With cyber and physical security threats becoming increasingly sophisticated, says CEA, Canadian utilities are taking numerous steps to enhance the security posture of the grid. Among others, these include compliance with NERC’s mandatory security standards; collaboration and sharing of threat information with Canadian and U.S. government partners; and expanded programs for equipment sharing and mutual assistance on power restoration.

“GridEx has become the marquee opportunity for continuous improvement and learning by the electricity sector in addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow,” said Carmine Marcello, former president & CEO of Hydro One. “Taken together with other aspects of the sector’s defence-in-depth strategy, GridEx should instil confidence in the public that the owners and operators of critical electric infrastructure approach grid security as an utmost priority, and are doing everything they can to achieve higher levels of performance and progress in this space.”

GridEx III marked the third instalment in the biannual series of security drills conducted by NERC. Since the first GridEx in 2011, participation by utilities, governments and other stakeholders has grown exponentially, reports CEA, including in Canada.

In the coming months, NERC will issue a detailed report with key findings and recommendations from GridEx III.

Canadian Electricity Association represents vertically integrated electric utilities, independent power producers, transmission & distribution companies, power marketers, manufacturers and suppliers of materials, and technology and service providers.