In much the same way that DER devices are connecting consumers to the electrical grid, a partnership established with the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in September 2019 is connecting us to a network of technology partners and a world of possibilities. Last fall, when ORNL leaders participated in our annual meeting held at their site just outside of Knoxville, Tenn., it sparked both a relationship and an invitation to Seven States Power Corporation’s Betsey Kirk McCall to join the technology lab’s SecCom Industry Advisory Board.

SecCom stands for “secure communications,” and the advisory board studies and solves grid security challenges stemming from an ever-increasing number of interconnected devices. The board is helping identify solutions that ensure resilient, end-to-end or point-to-point communications for the nation’s electricity infrastructure. The advisory board, which consists of cybersecurity experts, community-owned and investor-owned power companies and ORNL scientists, is focused on enhancing the cyber-physical security of generation and transmission systems.

“Fiber, sensors, distributed energy resources and other assets are operating on open networks, and that’s not a sustainable model,” said McCall, executive vice president of Seven States Power. “The assets must be secure to benefit the grid and the user, and we are honored to be a trusted resource to the team and excited to bring the expertise of other technology experts back to our members.”

McCall added that the SecCom Industry Advisory Board is helping her team learn about vendors, solutions and potential pitfalls as they prepare to offer a turnkey cybersecurity solution for members across the Tennessee Valley. Her team is working with NRECA and APPA to share information, develop educational materials and define a robust cybersecurity program for Seven States Power members.

Chattanooga EPB is also represented on ORNL’s SecCom Industry Advisory Board. EPB, a Seven States Power member company, is actively involved in testing both infrastructure and advanced concept solutions.