Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") Chairman Jon Wellinghoff announced the creation of the Office of Energy Infrastructure Security ("OEIS") in a press release issued on September 20, 2012. According to the press release, the OEIS will assist FERC with assessing and addressing potential cyber and physical security risks presented to energy facilities under FERC's jurisdiction, such as facilities that are part of the bulk power system. Chairman Wellinghoff notes, in a statement released in conjunction with the press release on September 20, 2012, that there is a "growing potential" for cyber and physical security attacks, necessitating the need for the development of an office such as the OEIS.

The OEIS responsibilities will include:

  • developing recommendations to identify and respond to potential cyber and physical security threats to FERC-jurisdictional facilities;
  • providing assistance to other governmental bodies and jurisdictional utilities with respect to potential cyber and physical security threats to FERC-jurisdictional facilities;
  • participating in inter-agency and intelligence-related coordination efforts with other governmental entities and industry representatives; and
  • conducting outreach to private sector industry participants regarding identification and mitigation of potential cyber and physical security threats to FERC-jurisdictional facilities.

Chairman Wellinghoff noted in his statement that "[t]he key benefit of a stand-alone office focused on energy infrastructure security is that it leverages the existing resources of the Commission with the resources of other governmental agencies and private industry in a coordinated, focused manner."

The OEIS will be led by Joseph McClelland, who has been the Director of the FERC Office of Electric Reliability ("OER") since its formation in 2006. As Director of the OER, Mr. McClelland was responsible for overseeing compliance with approved mandatory reliability standards by owners, operators and users of the bulk power system. FERC's press release noted that FERC, including the OER and the new OEIS, will continue to work closely with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to oversee bulk power system reliability.