US Announces $70 Million Cybersecurity Boost for Rural, Municipal Utilities

The US Department of Energy has announced a $70 million funding opportunity for electric cooperative, small investor-owned, and municipal utilities to improve their cybersecurity posture.

Offered as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the funding is meant to enhance the resilience of the energy grid against more frequent and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.

The rural and municipal utility cybersecurity program also aims to decrease energy burdens on utility members and customers, while improving the cybersecurity knowledge and skills of employees at rural utilities.

The funding opportunity is managed by the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), the Rural and Municipal Utility Cybersecurity (RMUC) Program’s Advanced Cybersecurity Technology (ACT) and is meant for projects covering three areas.

The funding is meant to support investments in technologies, tools, training, and processes to improve the cybersecurity of eligible electric utilities, as well as in technologies to strengthen the peer-to-peer and not-for-profit technical assistance ecosystem serving these utilities. The funding can also increase access to technical assistance and training for organizations with limited resources.

DoE CESER expects to offer up to 10 financial assistance awards in each of the three topic areas and estimates a 24-48 month period of performance for each award.

“Rural electric cooperative, municipal, and small investor-owned utilities carry out a critical economic and national security role in the United States. This funding will support important investments to harden utility systems, deliver crucial technical assistance, and provide cybersecurity training to the electric utility workforce,” DoE Infrastructure Under Secretary David Crane said.

Further information on the funding opportunity can be found on the program’s page, which also lists the documents needed for participation. An informational webinar will be hosted on December 19.

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Additionally, DoE CESER is offering $8.96 million to eligible utilities that serve military installations, and says that “up to 55 winning utilities will compete for $200,000 in cash prizes and technical assistance”.

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