Thursday, November 19, 2020

PUC Highlights Importance Of Critical Utility Infrastructure Thru Pandemic, Severe Storms

On November 19, the
Public Utility Commission recognized National Critical Infrastructure Security Month, noting the importance of Pennsylvania’s critical utility systems and the extensive behind-the-scenes efforts by public utilities and thousands of utility workers in keeping our communities safe and secure.
“As we grappled with all the challenges of 2020, it is important to recognize the work of our public utilities, and especially the women and men who have kept essential systems operating in the face of COVID-19, severe weather, and an assortment of other physical and cyber threats,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, who also chairs the Committee on Critical Infrastructure for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

Continued Infrastructure Improvement

While the security and resilience of critical utility infrastructure is recognized every November, the work of keeping these critical systems secure and operating is a year-round task.

“Not only have Pennsylvania’s utilities continued to provide service throughout COVID-19 shutdowns and business restrictions, but they also continued to complete critical infrastructure improvement projects,” noted Chair Dutrieuille. “Along the way, they also focused on keeping their workers healthy, protecting the public during any face-to-face interactions, and enhancing their online and virtual outreach to customers.”

Key Partnerships to Safeguard Services

Since public health concerns were first raised across Pennsylvania in early 2020, the PUC has worked with partner agencies and state leadership – including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Department of Community and Economic Development, Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Office and the Pennsylvania General Assembly – to help critical infrastructure utilities navigate COVID-19 issues impacting their operations and workforce, along with their suppliers and supply chains. 

“For years, Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of efforts to gather key stakeholders in government, utilities and nonprofit organizations to collaborate and prepare for potential threats,” said Chair Dutrieuille. “Much of that work was accomplished as part of statewide exercises and forums concerning cyber or natural ‘Black Sky’ incidents – incidents that have the potential to cause widespread disruptions to critical utility systems – but this year that preparation was extremely helpful for continuing operations during the pandemic.”

National Infrastructure Security Month

This year’s National Infrastructure Security Month focuses on a “Time of Transformation” – noting the transformative movement to remote work, distance learning and telemedicine, along with the importance of cybersecurity and infrastructure security.

The national campaign focuses on two important themes:

-- The Security and Response during a Global Pandemic, and

--  The Future of Securing Critical Infrastructure.

More information about the national campaign, and the role every organization, business and individual plays in safeguarding critical infrastructure, is available from the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency

[Posted: November 19, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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