States of Cybersecurity: Electricity Distribution System Discussions

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


State and local entities that oversee the reliable, affordable provision of electricity are faced with growing and evolving threats from cybersecurity risks to our nation's electricity distribution system. All-hazards system resilience is a shared responsibility among electric utilities and their regulators or policy-setting boards of directors. Cybersecurity presents new challenges and should be a focus for states, local governments, and Native American tribes that are developing energy-assurance plans to protect critical infrastructure. This research sought to investigate the implementation of governance and policy at the distribution utility level that facilitates cybersecurity preparedness to inform the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis; states; local governments; and other stakeholders on the challenges, gaps, and opportunities that may exist for future analysis. The need is urgent to identify the challenges and inconsistencies in how cybersecurity practices are being applied across the United States to inform the development of best practices, mitigations, and future research and development investments in securing the electricity infrastructure. By examining the current practices and applications of cybersecurity preparedness, this report seeks to identify the challenges and persistent gaps between policy and execution and reflect the underlying motivations of distinct utility structures as they play out at the local level. This study aims to create an initial baseline of cybersecurity preparedness within the distribution electricity sector. The focus of this study is on distribution utilities not bound by the cybersecurity guidelines of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to examine the range of mechanisms taken by state regulators, city councils that own municipal utilities, and boards of directors of rural cooperatives.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages66
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5C00-67198


  • cybersecurity
  • distribution
  • electricity


Dive into the research topics of 'States of Cybersecurity: Electricity Distribution System Discussions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this