Secure-the-Grid Coalition Weekly Teleconference

Rollup for January 26, 2024


Thank you all for your continuing contributions to our mission!

Here is the weblink for the audio recording of Friday’s teleconference:

We are grateful for Secretary Pena’s updates and insights on his project to harden the Houston Ship Channel as a designated “National Security Industrial Zone.”

Our support for this effort is valuable, as Emil pointed out. Success in this effort would reach beyond the ship channel to other keystone industrial regions and other critical industrial sectors.

What many of us can do to support this initiative will be revisited as we move along.

Also, a paper on how Creighton University’s new solar system weathered the frigid temperatures for several days in Omaha. With performance charts. The paper, “Weathering the Cold: A Tale of Two Renewable Energy Systems” is ATTACHED.

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CALENDAR – with hyperlinks for information

[ In the case of webinars, it is always wise to pre-register for these virtual events, even if you will be unable to view them “live.” Many of these events are still available online post-event, and in most of those cases even available to those who did not pre-register. ]


30th        Securing the Grid: A Solution for NERC CIP Transient Cyber Asset Requirements 11am (ET)

                                Joe Weiss will discuss this.


               Evolution Of Physical Security & Cloud-Based Access Control Will Shape the Future 1pm ET



1st           Overcoming First of a Kind Risk – Accelerating SMR Commercialization11am ET

2nd          Future Directions for Gallium Nitride (GaN) Devices in RF Applications 2pm ET

6th           Analyzing Breaker Monitoring Waveform Capture 12pm ET

15th             FERC February Open Meeting (to be Live-Cast on FERC’s YouTube channel) [to subscribe]

27th        Threat intelligence: Unleashing the full potential of your security arsenal – 10:45am-4pm ET

28th        DSIAC – “Expanding Release Envelopes Into the Supersonic Regime via CFD Analysis” 12pm ET


21st         Cybersecurity’s Hottest New Technologies: What You Need to Know  11am-5pm ET


Joint Meeting of NRC and FERC (Docket Number AD06-6-000)

CSIAC – Developing the Cybersecurity Workforce: An Intro to the NICE Framework 

Safety Priorities for Battery Energy Storage Systems

Dennis Quaid Interview on Tucker Carlson

Intelligent Perimeter Security for T&D Critical Sites to Meet Compliance Objectives

Maximizing Your ROI – Holistic Cybersecurity Strategies With Expert Joe Weiss

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Cyber & Control Systems & Sensors 

First Reports Under SEC Cybersecurity Rule Released

                It is like a late Christmas present for cyber risk practitioners, as corporate disclosures are just now being released under the 2023 SEC Cybersecurity Rule, which went into effect last December.

                THX to Rob Crane 

Wall Street Journal – Cyber Management Details Emerge Under SEC Rules

                Initial filings from Lockheed and others to set direction for security governance disclosures. Regulatory filings from defense company Lockheed Martin and other large corporations under strict new federal disclosure rules are setting early expectations for how much companies must disclose about their cybersecurity programs.

The Cyber Readiness Institute and the Cyber Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) Announce Pilot Program

The pilot program is aimed at elevating cyber readiness and security within the Energy Manufacturing sector. The pilot program will utilize CRI’s Cyber Readiness Program to assist up to 200 manufacturers in the United States.

THX to Rob Crane 


Will the Pentagon’s solar panels be Chinese?

The Energy Department has announced it is putting solar panels on the roof of the Pentagon for environmental reasons. No study has been done on the feasibility of this venture. The other big question is where will the solar system for the Pentagon come from? Will the panels be Chinese? What about the batteries? The switching system? If Chinese, could they bug the system?

Microgrid Resources Coalition reply comments to “Order Instituting Rulemaking Regarding

Microgrids Pursuant to Senate Bill 1339 and Resiliency Strategies.”

THX to Terry Hill

Revolutionizing Energy Distribution: Medium Voltage DC Grids Driving Megawatt-Scale Applications

                Brace yourselves for a monumental leap into the future of energy distribution! The DC-POWER project, funded by the European Union, has officially kick-started in January 2024. Coordinated by CEA (INES), this groundbreaking project will show the marvels of medium voltage direct current (MVDC) grids operating at bipolar ±1.5kV, ushering in a new era of sustainable power distribution with at least a jaw-dropping 50% reduction in copper conductor usage.

THX to Terry Hill

Defensive Technologies 

DISA releases new electromagnetic spectrum capability to enhance modern warfighting

                …improves the U.S. military’s situational awareness of the electromagnetic spectrum, or EMS, considered a modern-day battle space that spans the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains. 

DragonFire laser weapon can hit a coin from a kilometer away for around $13 a shot

                Lasers can accurately track and destroy aerial targets

As one member points out:

it can theoretically fire an infinite number of shots as long as energy is available. Firing DragonFire for 10 seconds costs as much as running a standard heater for an hour, with each blast costing about $13 at most.]


Microsoft hires Archie Manoharan as director of nuclear technologies, joins from micro modular reactor firm

                As company builds out its data center nuclear power team. Last September, Data Center Dynamics (DCD) exclusively reported that the company was recruiting to “implement a global small modular reactor and microreactor” strategy to power data centers.

                [Looks like data centers are moving to self-generation.]

                THX to Terry Hill 

From MIT Technology Review: The next generation of nuclear reactors is getting more advanced. Here’s how.

                Alternative ways of powering, cooling, and constructing reactors could help get more nuclear energy on the grid.

                THX to Terry Hill 

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy awarded grant to develop SMR for UK

                GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has been awarded a £33.6m UK Future Nuclear Enabling Fund grant to accelerate regulatory acceptance and its deployment readiness of its BWRX-300 small modular reactor. Designed to operate for 60 years, the BWRX-300 boiling water reactor has an electrical capacity of 300MWe and requires refuelling every 12 to 24 months. According to GEH, the BWRX-300 uses natural circulation and passive cooling isolation condenser systems ‘to promote simple and safe operating rhythms’. Using a combination of modular and open-top construction techniques, the BWRX-300 can be constructed in 24-36 months while achieving an approximate 90 per cent volume reduction in plant layout

                THX to Terry Hill

Generation, Transmission Distribution

Electrification, manufacturing to propel 1.5% annual US electric demand growth through 2026: IEA

Data centers make up about a third of the anticipated demand growth, the International Energy Agency said.


Effects of Electromagnetic Pulses on Communication InfrastructureA simplified thought exercise from the Institute for Security and Technology

                It is important to acknowledge that the blast effects of a nuclear detonation are horrific and, in such a scenario, it is right that emergency response (including communications) go first to support those people who are affected. IST’s Innovation and Catastrophic Risk team is focused on one aspect of crisis prevention and, in the worst case, response: the international prevention and de-escalation of catastrophic nuclear risk through additive communications solutions.

Energy Democracy/Equity

How California is casting a cloud over residential solar

A state Public Utilities Commission rule change that slashed the rate at which homeowners can sell power back to their electricity provider. The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E, stated in an annual report that the new rules will reduce compensation for solar new customers by about 80 percent. Wood Mackenzie says the new net metering rates have caused the payback period for residential systems to almost triple, from five or six years to 14 or 15.

Regulatory and Policy

NERC issues 3-year plan for setting reliability standards for wind, solar, storage

The plan responds to a FERC order driven by concerns about inverter-based resources tripping offline. The new reliability standards are scheduled to take effect by the end of the decade.

[Can we petition for addressing inverters of Chinese manufacture?]

Bipartisan group of 12 senators proposes blocking DOE’s distribution transformer efficiency rule

Stricter standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy “jeopardize electricity distribution for millions” of Americans, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The Distribution Transformer Efficiency & Supply Chain Reliability Act of 2024 is sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Original co-sponsors also include Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Jon Tester, D-Montana.

America’s aging grid threatens national security. Here are some steps to fix it.

According to one opinion, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should finalize a strong regional transmission planning and cost allocation rule, which has been under consideration since 2021.


Ensuring grid resiliency in a power-hungry world

From ABBExplore strategies for strengthening aging power infrastructures against rising demands and climate impacts, with a focus on the deployment of advanced, self-powered reclosers to enhance reliability and mitigate outages in our increasingly electrified world.

[But Electromagnetic/Physical/Cyber threats not covered – how is that ensuring resiliency? Some solution!]

Creating the self-healing grid of the future

Sandia leads the development of algorithms for resilient microgrids. What’s not hard to imagine is the potential value of a self-healing grid, one able to adapt and bounce back to life, ensuring uninterrupted power even when assailed by a hurricane or a group of bad guys.

[As Gen. Chrosniak says “A self-licking ice cream cone.” Where is the attention to culture-destroying threats? Some solution!]


US military eyes value of long-duration energy storage

ESS Technology is to demonstrate its system at the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Contingency Base Integration Training Evaluation Centre in Missouri.

Long wary of batteries, New York’s now poised to go big on energy storage

Can community-scale battery installations hit the sweet spot for the country’s densest city? NineDot Energy has raised $225 million more to take a crack at it.

Multifarious Threats

New report reveals a precious resource we all use could diminish by 2026

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently said that energy breakthroughs are needed to power the future of artificial intelligence.

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                The January 26 call expressed concerns about the dependencies of critical infrastructure on the energy sector, emphasizing the importance of securing these vital sectors. Participants discussed the need for systemic approaches to integrate and secure multiple microgrids and the limitations posed by utilities resistant to change, as well as potential federal help and oversight. Moreover, the conversations raised issues involving the physical and cyber security of critical infrastructures, the significant vulnerability of the Houston Ship Channel, and the importance of action at the local level.

Tommy Waller opens the teleconference with an outline of today’s agenda, and briefed participants on promoting the GRID DOWN POWER UP film via YouTube search in order to help with algorithm promotion. Tommy announces that David Tice, who is presently in D.C., will be on the call shortly to provide updates on the event with Dennis Quaid at the Capitol.

Now is an excellent time to press the information on GRID DOWN POWER UP on YouTube to friends, neighbors and family and all social media connections.

Tommy announces the anticipated participation of Major General Luke Reiner, a retired National Guard Adjutant General for Wyoming, as a new weekly participant, praising his serious approach to grid vulnerabilities. Gen. Reiner is unable to join today’s teleconference due to schedule, but will be with us next Friday, when Tommy will provide a more detailed background introduction.

Tommy announces today’s call will feature Emil Pena with updates on his Houston Ship Channel project.


Doug acknowledges Stephen Chill for the addition of Gen. Reiner and asks Michael Lambert to introduce two new members of our clan, John Suarez, and Rob Crane.


David Tice joins the teleconference and we cut immediately to David in D.C. David updates on the progress and planning for the Capitol Hill Event with Dennis Quaid, touching on efforts to increase film viewership on YouTube. He speaks about the importance of promoting grid security issues.

The event takes place at 11:30 in the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium.

David announces an exciting new feature with the new Align Act which is the capability to make phone calls to, for example, state utility commissioners and others.

David asks us to accentuate the success that CenterPoint is having and states that he will reserve further commentary for the non-recorded session of today’s telecon.

Doug adds a note of praise for David’s personal appearances in advertising content during the film-viewing on YouTube, specifically that both the scripting and especially David’s delivery is most effective at connecting with people.

David concludes with a call for prayer for progress in our mission because the geo-political landscape is getting more threatening than ever.


Michael Lambert comes back to introduce Rob Crane and John Suarez from the Institute for Homeland Security highlighting their backgrounds and contributions and mentioning an upcoming conference they are involved with. Michael briefly describes this March 12-14 Conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Both Rob and John discuss their roles and connections to the energy sector and express their eagerness to work within the Secure the Grid Coalition.


Doug introduces past Assistant Secretary of Energy Emil Pena with a description of the project at the Houston Ship Channel and the extreme importance to National Security of the area surrounding it, where 90% of civilian AND military jet fuel is refined and transported. In this introduction, Doug notes the seven agreed-upon elements of National Security: military; energy; political; economic; environmental; natural resources, and cyber.


Emil states his mission is to have the 52-mile Industrial Zone surrounding the Houston Ship Channel designated as a National Security Zone issue.

Emil reviews the 2021 winter electricity calamity and the lack of comprehension by the powers that be in Austin to the complexities involved in the refining and petrochemical manufacturing processes which, and the extent of the consequence of interruptions in electric power.

Emil notes that since his first presentation on his mission he has garnered bipartisan support and resolutions from local entities. He also talks about planned roundtables on new technologies and his interactions with the utility companies.

Emil briefly conveyed the discussions with our Coalition and Emil will supply letters of support and other documents to help the Coalition fashion letters of support for his mission. Emil declares that such support is very meaningful when approaching Congress.

Emil notes that in discussions with Congressional Representatives and Senators that they ask about technology and solutions. To meet this, Emil has planned a series of Roundtables on new technologies, the first of which will occur in February, and will be focused on above-ground storage tanks. There have been some rule changes in Texas with regard to these tanks, and so this is an especially relevant topic right now.

There will be a roundtable focused on electrical power provision where the emphasis will be on microgrids which will include ideas on the future role of Small Modular Reactors. Another roundtable will focus on the insurance and perhaps the credit rating side of the ledger.


Joe Weiss comes forth to explain the dependent interrelation of the Storage Tanks with Cybersecurity issues because of the essential nature of accuracy of measurements of flow, pressure, temperature, and so forth.

Secondly, Joe announces that on February 20 & 21 he will be in San Antonio sitting on a panel with DOE to discuss cybersecurity for advanced manufacturing. This panel will cover all things relevant to the Houston Ship Channel matter.

Joe relates an incident that happened when he was in Houston when the planes hit the Twin Towers on 9-11-01. Joe further relates an alarming fact that four companies along the Houston Ship Channel were producing the same chemicals that were to blame for the Bhopal disaster of 1984.

Joe then declares that the ships themselves are part of the interconnectedness because they use the very same control systems as the onshore facilities. This makes the Houston Ship Channel perhaps the most important place to protect in terms of Control Systems – Cybersecurity.


Emil relates a story of confusion of Pasadena, Texas and Pasadena, California, which underscores the danger of assumptions, and the need to question everything that comes out of Washington.

Emil notes that there are other Industrial Zones throughout the Nation that his National Security Designation strategy can be applied to.

In response to a question from Tommy regarding the precise dates of these Roundtables, Emil agrees to make them available to the Coalition as soon as agreed upon. Emil notes that he is working with the Houston Port Bureau right now to pin down this schedule.

Emil moves on to lament the power of the status quo and the barriers that include lack of visionaries. Emil states that the reason he is a member of the Secure the Grid Coalition is because we are fighting to break down those barriers.


John Suarez names several of the various councils and organizations he has worked with in the Houston area. Emil thanks John and confirms that he has reached out to all those entities for support, and many other entities that he has worked through for 20+ years on a number of important matters.


Rob Crane suggests Emil connect with Karen Evans, formerly with DOE, who may be a good person to partner with at her current institute to advance the status of cybersecurity and manufacturing.

Rob continues with commentary on small-scale nuclear, both stationary and portable. Rob mentions some specific companies, Governor Abbott’s support, and an ERCOT Report that is due to be published at the end of the year.

Emil notes that small-scale nuclear generation has a proven history of being safe with the Navy, and that now is a good time to address its application in the Industrial Sector.

Rob notes the protection of these systems against all hazards.

Rob refers to the new SEC Rules concerning corporate reporting and says that these reports might become a driver towards corporate attention to security aspects.

Emil notes that as a Texan, he is not very proud that over 250 of his fellow Texans perished because of the 2021 energy freeze that was unprepared for. Emil cites the need for some federal push in the form of help and oversight might nudge the people in Austin to act.


Tommy acknowledges that we cannot allow the loss of over 250 lives due to power outage to happen again. Tommy brings up the dangers of Physical Sabotage and the connections Emil has with local Law Enforcement, harkening back to one of Emil’s previous presentations, and former Harris County Sheriff, now a Harris County Commissioner, Adrian Garcia.

Tommy is making a letter available that is signed by ten former high-ranking FBI directors warning about the threat of Physical Sabotage from the free entry of millions of unvetted military age males from numerous countries. [See ATTACHED.] Tommy agrees to the National Security ramifications and notes that security is a responsibility of local levels as well and applauds Emil’s seeking that level too.

Emil agrees that County Sheriffs are at the top of the list, and Emil has a really good relationship with the U.S. Sheriff’s Association, and a briefing by the Secure-the-Grid Coalition will “make us their best friend.” Arrangements are made to explore this opportunity off-line.


Terry Hill raises a point about residences surrounding the Industrial Zones and the concept of microgrids and even residential areas sharing resources with the Industrial consumers.

Emil likes the idea because one of the reasons he is in tight with the Commissioners is because the Commissioners are under constant pressure from the community itself. Emil reminds that these are small communities surrounding the Ship Channel that house the employees of the Industrial Zone. Emil notes that a major barrier to good ideas comes from the utility companies themselves. That is why the designation as a National Security Issue is critical, because it gets around the barriers put in place by the juggernaut of the current system.


Doug restates Emil’s words for emphasis, adding that it is the nature of monopolies to want to persist as monopolies.

Doug affirms that when Emil sends the exemplars and documents mentioned, a letter of support from the Secure-the-Grid Coalition will be forthcoming. Doug also arranges to introduce Emil by way of contact information with several of the members who hold specific expertise to be of special help.

Emil acknowledges that he has a lot of good friends at CenterPoint, but states that the utilities “taught Fred Astaire how to dance.”


John Dodson comes forth to relate his White House briefing in 2019. At that time John’s team had a plan for the whole Nation. Of the top four areas were New York City, Washington DC, the Houston Corridor, and San Diego, CA. John continues that there are a number of microgrids in the Houston Corridor, but they all have to be protected against all hazards, which they are not, currently. John affirms the criticality of continuity in the Houston area.

John confirms the obstacle of the utility companies, explaining the reasons why security is neglected. John relates that in 2018 the Secretary of Defense asked them to make “peace” and so John’s team offered to provide the services that the utilities did not want to pursue, and John lists a few of these. With new administration, these plans had to start from scratch again.

Emil relates that back in the 1980s he championed co-generation, but this and others are on-offs and what is really needed now is to create a systemic approach that stitches together the disparate microgrids.


Tommy joins in the discussion to describe cogeneration and the huge improvement it would be for the Industrial cogens to be able to supply themselves, and at the same time, provide certain residential areas with electricity. Tommy relates a plan that was made many years ago when Tommy’s father worked for a refinery in Louisiana that wanted to get into cogeneration, and the utility companies were able to pressure the Public Service Commission and undercut that proposition in every way they could. Each could be a source of generation and then secured. And Tommy pledges support for Emil.


Joe Weiss returns to remind of the “boil water order” placed on the entire city of Houston in November 2022. Even though there were onsite generators at Houston Water, they were not set up properly to handle this situation. This is an example of where water and power come together. And no storm was involved.


Tommy winds down the recorded session of teleconference with arrangements made to help support Emil’s long effort through supportive letters and through the planned Roundtables as soon as scheduled.

There is a brief pause for any last comments, followed by the transition to the non-recorded segment of the call for sensitive discussions.