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FERC Seeking Comments on Risks to Bulk Electric Systems from Use of Equipment Provided or Produced by Entities Identified as Risk to National Security

In Docket No. RM20-19, FERC initiated a Notice of Investigation by which it is seeking comments on the potential risks to the bulk electric system posed by the use of equipment and services produced or provided by certain entities identified as risks to national security. In addition, the Commission seeks comments on strategies to mitigate any potential risks posed by such telecommunications equipment and services, including but not limited to potential modifications to the Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards.  Since the issuance of Order No. 850, there have been significant developments in the form of Executive Orders, legislation, as well as federal agency actions that raise concerns over the potential risks posed by the use of equipment and services provided by certain entities identified as risks to national security. In particular, Huawei Technologies Company (Huawei) and ZTE Corporation (ZTE) have been identified as examples of such certain entities because they provide communication systems and other equipment and services that are critical to bulk electric system reliability.  FERC seeks comments on: (1) the extent of the use of equipment and services provided by certain entities identified as risks to national security related to bulk electric system operations; (2) the risks to bulk electric system reliability and security posed by the use of equipment and services provided by certain entities; (3) whether the CIP Reliability Standards adequately mitigate the identified risks; (4) what mandatory actions the Commission could consider taking to mitigate the risk of equipment and services provided by certain entities related to bulk electric system operations; (5) strategies that entities have implemented or plan to implement – in addition to compliance with the mandatory CIP Reliability Standards – to mitigate the risks associated with use of equipment and services provided by certain entities; and (6) other methods the Commission may employ to address this matter including working collaboratively with industry to raise awareness about the identified risks and assisting with mitigating actions (i.e., such as facilitating information sharing). The responses to these questions will provide the Commission with a better understanding of the risks to bulk electric system reliability posed by equipment and services provided by entities identified as risks to national security, as well as how the Commission may best address any identified risks.

The Commission invites interested persons to submit comments on the matters and issues proposed in this notice, including any related matters or alternative proposals that commenters may wish to discuss. Comments are due on or about mid-November and Reply Comments are due in mid-December.  Comments must refer to Docket No. RM20-19-000, and must include the commenter’s name, the organization they represent, if applicable, and their address.

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