The US Department of Energy has introduced a $70 million funding initiative to fortify the defenses of electric cooperatives, small investor-owned, and municipal utilities. This funding opportunity, a component of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aims to address the rising frequency and sophistication of cyber threats targeting the energy grid.
The Rural and Municipal Utility Cybersecurity (RMUC) Program’s Advanced Cybersecurity Technology (ACT) will manage the funding to support projects across three key areas. The initiative is designed to enhance the cybersecurity of eligible electric utilities, reinforce the peer-to-peer and not-for-profit technical assistance ecosystem, and provide training for utilities with limited resources.
The funding will enable investments in technologies, tools, training, and processes to bolster the cybersecurity posture of participating utilities. Additionally, it seeks to improve access to technical assistance and training for organizations facing resource constraints. The Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) anticipates providing up to 10 financial assistance awards in each of the three designated topic areas.
Each award is expected to have a performance period ranging from 24 to 48 months. The funding initiative underscores the critical role of rural electric cooperative, municipal, and small investor-owned utilities in the nation’s economic and national security.
The initiative aligns with the broader goal of decreasing energy burdens on utility members and customers while enhancing the cybersecurity knowledge and skills of employees within rural utilities. To further facilitate participation and provide additional details, an informational webinar is scheduled for December 19.
In a complementary effort, the DoE CESER is offering $8.96 million to eligible utilities serving military installations, with up to 55 winning utilities competing for $200,000 in cash prizes and technical assistance. This comprehensive approach underscores the commitment to fortifying critical infrastructure against cyber threats and fostering a resilient energy sector.