Electromagnetic Pulses Task Force

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Protecting the Bulk Power System and assuring the effective reduction of risks to reliability are integral pieces of the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) mission. NERC has launched efforts to identify reliability concerns associated with Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) and potential methods for promoting resilience. A task force was created in April 2019 to first identify key issues and scope areas of improvement for the industry. The task force will also submit, as necessary, best practices and reliability guidelines to the NERC technical committees for review and endorsement. If necessary, a SAR will be submitted to the Standards Committee by the end of the year.

In late April 2019, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released another report which defined the EMP threat, assessed vulnerabilities/risks, and made mitigation recommendations, in addition to laying the groundwork for the technical basis to develop a potential standard.  The EPRI report complements a Department of Energy (DOE) action plan that was released in January 2017 on EMP Resilience. The action plan identified five goals: 1) improve and share understanding of EMP threats, effects, and impacts; 2) identify priority infrastructure; 3) test and promote mitigation and protection approaches; 4) enhance response and recovery capabilities; and 5) share best practices across government and industry.

On March 26, 2019, the President of the United States issued an Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP). The Executive Order calls for collaboration and information sharing among government agencies and private industry as appropriate to promote resilience to EMPs, particularly with regard to threat and vulnerability assessments. The Executive Order also directed the federal government to provide incentives as appropriate to “encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance." Various agencies were assigned different areas of focus. Of particular relevance, the Secretary of Energy was tasked to perform initial research and development and develop pilot programs that would identify potential failures modes, contingency preparedness, and mitigations with regard to the risk to the electric power grid.  NERC will continue to work with DOE and EPRI to clearly understand EMPs, their effective mitigations, and the proper ways to engage industry.

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Deliverables and Timeline

  • April 2019: Solicit for task force participation
  • May 2019: Initial meeting of task force via WebEx
  • July through August 2019: Publish initial draft recommendations
  • September 2019: Present guidelines and best practices to the NERC technical committees
  • October 2019: Present SAR(s) to the SC, if applicable
  • December 2020: Initiate Standards Development project, if applicable     


Draft Actions Dates Results Consideration of Comments