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How do you implement information technology to the national power grid to make it smarter, more efficient and secure? The White House says it has the answer.

The National Science Technology Council outlined its plans to modernize the power grid in rural areas and to create a “smart grid innovation hub” in a report entitled “Building the 21st Century Grid.” This hub will be a collaboration of federal researchers, companies and utility executives and will support research, development and deployments of smart grid technology.

The Obama administration emphasized grid security issues. The modernization of the power grid will allow operators to have access to information about threats to the power grid, help companies deliver new security tools and create security standards.

The United States needs a more reliable energy system to manage stresses on the grid, such as outages and peak-time demand, said John Holdren, the director of the White House Office and Science Technology Policy.

Cyber Security

The project comes out as reports say what people have been discussing for years and that is there is an increase in cyber-threats facing utilities and power generation companies. Several multinational energy companies suffered security breaches long before the victims became aware of a system compromise.

Energy companies are vulnerable to cyber crime because they have valuable proprietary data on discoveries and financial information relating to existing power and fuel reserves. State-sponsored foreign attackers have used “highly sophisticated methods” to compromise these targets.

Technologies such as smart grid, advanced metering infrastructure and modern control systems add to the growing cyber-threats and associated risks. The true cost of a security breach goes beyond initial data loss or service disruption—resulting in potential financial losses, intellectual property theft, fraud, diminished shareholder value and reputational damage.

Smart meters and other connected systems will result in an exponential increase in endpoints and associated data that utilities will need to monitor and manage.

The White House will advance its smart grid goals with new programs and initiatives to coordinate between the private sector and various federal agencies.

The Obama administration has already invested $4.5 billion in recovery investments into smart grid projects, along with the $5.5 billion investment from private funds, government officials said.

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