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Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are rapidly deploying in utility distribution grids

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Christine Hertzog's picture
Principal Technical Leader, Cyber Security Strategic Initiative Electric Power Research Institute

Christine Hertzog is a Principal Technical Leader focused on OT Cyber Security research at EPRI.  She conducts research on new technologies suitable for OT environments and informs industry...

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  • Aug 23, 2019 9:00 am GMT

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Distributed Energy Resources, click here for more

As utilities confront new DER interconnection and grid management issues, it is equally important to actively consider the Cyber Security challenges created by utility-owned and third party DER assets.  These challenges include an increased attack surface and a lack of clear lines of responsibility.  The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently convened the first DER Cyber Security Workshop on July 16th in Palo Alto, California, to identify DER technical, policy, and skills obstacles to utilities securely monitoring and/or managing these assets.  Attendees included cyber security and DER integration resources from investor-owned and municipal electric utilities, state regulatory agencies, national labs, and vendors.  Discussion topics ranged from an overview of EPRI’s Network Security Architecture for DER Integration research and a utility’s perspective on Cyber Security for IEEE 1547’s recent revision.  Other sessions focused on Cyber Security research focused on EVs and EV charging infrastructure and a utility-led presentation on Cyber Security challenges in grid modernization.  There were three main take-aways from the daylong event:

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  • Utilities, regulators, and vendors must immediately address critical security gaps in technologies, policies, and practices
  • Current DER cyber security vulnerabilities are a growing risk management issue for utilities
  • EPRI will create the DER Cyber Security Interest Group as a forum for industry stakeholders to address these issues and drive consensus on solutions that reduce cyber security vulnerabilities in DER deployments.

For more information on the DER Cyber Security Interest Group or EPRI’s Cyber Security research activities, please email

Christine Hertzog's picture
Thank Christine for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 23, 2019

Thanks for the overview, Christine-- it's encouraging to know this work is at a high focus. 

One question: are there any official regulations or policies guiding the cybersecurity of DER assets that vendors & utilitiles are compelled to follow? Or is it still a bit of the wild west in that regard?

Christine Hertzog's picture
Christine Hertzog on Aug 27, 2019

Thanks for your question.  The answer is no to your first question.  The lack of guidance is an important driver for the stakeholders participating in our DER Cyber Security Interest Group.  EPRI operates on building consensus, and we welcome the inputs from DER stakeholders to create recommendations to improve DER Cyber Security.  There are many analogies that could be applied to the current state of DER Cyber Security. Wild West is one of them.

Allison Salke's picture
Allison Salke on Sep 3, 2019

Thank you for your post and overview Christine. Along with the integration of operational technology (OT) such as DERs, was there any discussion about securely bridging (OT) and information technology (IT)?

Christine Hertzog's picture
Christine Hertzog on Sep 4, 2019

The discussion focused on the topics mentioned in the post.  You are welcome to join the DER Cyber Security Interest Group listed above and add your contributions about OT/IT security to these discussions.

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