Feds' Smart Grid Race Leaves Cybersecurity in the Dust

Feds' Smart Grid Race Leaves Cybersecurity in the Dust
Feds' Smart Grid Race Leaves Cybersecurity in the Dust

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By Kim Zetter
Threat Level
October 28, 2009

Amid the government-funded rush to upgrade America=E2=80=99s aging electric 
system to a smart grid comes a strange confluence of press releases this 
week by the White House and the University of Illinois.

Tuesday morning, President Obama, speaking at Florida Power and Light 
(FPL) facilities, announced $3.4 billion in grants to utility companies, 
municipal districts and manufacturers to spur a nationwide transition to 
smart-grid technologies and fund other energy-saving initiatives as part 
of the economic stimulus package.

FPL will receive $200 million to install 2.6 million smart meters and 
other technologies that promise to reduce energy costs for customers. 
CenterPoint Energy in Houston, Texas, gets $200 million to install 2.2 
million smart meters (.pdf) and more than 550 sensors and automated 
switches. Baltimore Gas and Electric in Maryland is another $200-million 

Strange, then, that another press release distributed Monday by the 
Information Trust Institute at the University of Illinois announces a 
grant of $18.8 million to four academic institutions to fund a five-year 
research project into securing the power grid. The project is supposed 
to make certain that the smart meters and other devices implemented by 
power companies can resist hackers and other attackers.


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