The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) has recently released a grant notice for $25 million in cybersecurity funding entitled "Industry Partnerships for Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) Research, Development and Demonstration." This is the first industry-focused funding solicitation since Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. Given the exponential increase in cyber risk to the energy sector in recent years, members of Congress provided a 22 percent increase in funding for DOE cybersecurity initiatives in the recent FY 2018 omnibus spending bill.

Cybersecurity Grant Funding Notice

The objective of the CEDS grant notice is to enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation's energy infrastructure through innovative research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of cybersecurity solutions. Energy infrastructure includes electricity generation, transmission and distribution, as well as the production, refining, storage and distribution of oil and gas.

Up to $25 million is available for 5-10 awards ranging from $2-3 million, with an award cap of $4 million. Each project proposal must have a cost share of 20-50 percent, depending upon project type.

The solicitation's five topic areas include:

  • Redesign for cyber-resilient architecture – oil and natural gas (ONG) and electric subsectors
  • Cybersecurity for the ONG environment
  • Cybersecure communications
  • Cybersecure cloud-based technologies in the operation technology (OT) environment
  • Innovative technologies that enhance cybersecurity in the energy sector

Full applications are due by June 18, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. ET. For more information or to apply online, visit FedConnect.

Programmatic Background

As discussed in a recent blog post, DOE created a new Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) office in February. Since CESER is relatively new, this funding announcement was released through OE. Traditional OE funding opportunities are specifically issued via DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). NETL regularly issues FOAs on behalf of the DOE Offices of Fossil Energy (FE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and OE, which can be found on its solicitation page.

By standing up CESER, DOE has decisively moved to address what it sees as the number one threat and risk to the energy sector’s security and reliability: cybersecurity attacks. At the moment, some of these responsibilities still fall under the purview of OE, which was tasked in 2005 to help ensure the reliability of the nation’s energy delivery system after the 2003 North American blackout. While not cybsersecurity related, the widespread outage left more than 50 million people without power. Eventually, CESER will lead efforts “to secure the U.S. energy infrastructure against all hazards, reduce impacts from disruptive events and recover from energy disruptions” and is expected to be fully operational in 2019. OE will then refocus on its traditional mission of promoting the reliability and affordability of transmission and distribution systems. It will also continue to focus on grid modernization including utility-scale energy storage, transformer resilience, advanced components, federal permitting and technical assistance.