MPSC requires electric utilities to report cybersecurity plans, threats

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today sought public comments on updated rules for electric utilities, including requirements that they report to the Commission any cybersecurity attacks on their systems.

“The Commission is working with multiple stakeholders to take a proactive approach to address cybersecurity threats,” said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC, “and to examine programs and procedures designed to protect system resiliency and reliability.”

Recent reports that criminals are targeting U.S. energy facilities make strengthening cybersecurity rules increasingly important. Threats challenge the reliability, resiliency, and safety of the electric grid as modernization results in more digital access points and an increased control by networked devices. Robust rules regarding how utilities prepare for cyberattacks will limit the impact an attack can have on customer rates.

Under the Technical Standards for Electric Service (Cases No. U-18043 and U-18203) investor-owned and cooperative utilities must provide the MPSC with an annual report on cybersecurity programs and planning, a description of cybersecurity training for employees, and notifications as soon as a cybersecurity incident that results in a loss of service, financial harm, or breach of sensitive business or customer data is detected.

Investor-owned utilities such as Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Electric Co. will also have to include in their annual reports an overview of their major past and future investments in cybersecurity efforts.

The rules also reflect meter technology advancements and cover equipment inspections, meter testing, protection of utility equipment on private property, meter reading data collection, and resolving inaccuracies or billing issues.

Interested parties can comment on the rules (R 460.3101 to R 460.3908) at a 9 a.m. May 8 public hearing at the Commission’s offices at 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Comments can also be sent to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909 or emailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. Deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. May 29.

Read the proposed rule changes here.

Utilities likely to roll out EV pilot programs this year

The MPSC issued its plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) roadmap as the result of two technical conferences in August and February to frame regulatory policy and enable planning to assist with the expected growth of PEVs and their impact on the state’s electric distribution system.

The Commission urged utilities (Case No. U-18368) to launch their own or collaborative pilot projects that do not need MPSC approval as a way to test market interest. If well-planned and executed with the right price signals and coordination with third parties on the placement of chargers, there is the potential that all customers will benefit from increased electrification of the transportation sector. The Commission also called on utilities to consider the anticipated growth of PEV demand and electric load forecasting in their five-year distribution planning process.

Finally, the Commission said it anticipates some aspects of PEV programs to be addressed in future rate cases or other proceedings, however they will need to be economically sound and sustainable in real-time applications.

Podcasts of both collaborative technical conferences can be found here.

The MPSC’s electric vehicle Issue Brief can be found here.

Other Commission rulings today

Rural broadband proposals OK’d: Code of Conduct waivers were approved for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative (Case No. U-20057) and Great Lakes Energy Cooperative (Case No. U-20087) to offer high speed broadband service in unserved and underserved parts of rural Michigan. The two companies propose building fiber optic rings to provide customers energy use options and deploy broadband access.

2-1-1 coordinating agency renewed: Michigan 2-1-1 has been designated as the statewide 2-1-1 coordinating agency until March 31, 2021 (Case No. U-14725). The wholly owned subsidiary of the Michigan Association of United Ways has been the coordinating agency since 2006. It helps qualified consumers get access to public and private social services.

Detroit Thermal steam costs: A steam supply cost recovery (SSCR) plan settlement agreement was approved for Detroit Thermal, LLC (Case No. U-18413). For the twelve-month period ending March 31, 2019, the SSCR factor will be set at $13.44 per thousand pounds (Mlb) of steam, down from $13.66 per Mlb.

For more information about the MPSC, please visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc or sign up for one of its listservs to keep up to date on MPSC matters.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.

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