Payne Smart Grid Bill Passes Committee

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed through committee H.R. 2962, the SMART Grid Study Act, as an amendment offered by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) to H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity & Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (NCCIP).

“I am very pleased that the Committee accepted my bill as an amendment today,” said Rep. Payne, Jr.  “We have seen how natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy can devastate our power grid and expose us to cyber attacks by outside actors. My amendment will fully explore the steps we can take to strengthen our power grid, reduce the devastation of these threats, and make us more secure in the process.  I want to congratulate Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Thompson for their leadership on securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and thank them for their bipartisan work in adopting this amendment.”

Rep. Payne, Jr.’s amendment was borne out of a bill he introduced in August 2013, H.R. 2962, The SMART Grid Study Act.  The amendment will:

  • Direct $2 million to be used toward a comprehensive study conducted by the National Research Council in full cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies as necessary.
  • Provide an assessment of actions necessary to expand and strengthen the capabilities of the electric grid to prepare for, respond to, mitigate, and recover from a natural disaster and cyber attacks.
  • Provide for a comprehensive outline of the construction and technical development stages, costs, jobs created, and protections associated with fully upgrading the electric grid.
  • Require zero additional funding by Congress as the study will be paid for by amounts already assigned to the Department of Homeland Security.

“Cyber threats are a major challenge as we transition to a modern electric grid,” said National Electrical Manufacturers Association President & CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “NEMA commends Chairman McCaul, Congressman Payne, Jr. and members of the Homeland Security Committee for adopting this important amendment.”

“The SMART Grid Study Act will fund necessary research into strengthening our nation’s electric grid,” said Dan Delurey, Executive Director of the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG).  “It will help shape the policies and strategies necessary to accelerate the transition that is underway towards  a smarter, more resilient grid – one that can better respond to severe weather, integrate renewable energy and distributed generation, provide customers with information about their electricity usage, and make the electric sector more efficient overall.”

“The American Public Power Association (APPA) applauds Ranking Member Payne, Jr.’s efforts on cybersecurity issues, and in particular, his desire to examine ways the electric grid could be improved to better protect it from attacks,” said American Public Power Association Vice President of Government Relations Joy Ditto.  “While the electric utility sector has in place the necessary mandatory and enforceable cybersecurity and physical security standards for the bulk electric system, APPA believes there could be benefits from the National Research Council assessing the resilience and reliability of the grid.  That is why APPA supports the SMART Grid Study Act, and appreciates its passage by the full House Homeland Security Committee today as part of the Committee’s broader cybersecurity bill.”


In offering his amendment, Rep. Payne, Jr. made the following statement:

“In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc up and down the east coast, taking out power lines, disrupting critical infrastructure, and upsetting businesses and the regional economy. Many areas of my district were under water and were without power for nearly two weeks – and that was just the beginning of the destruction we saw to our critical infrastructure. 

“Hurricane Sandy demonstrated to us just how weak our electric grid is and how our critical infrastructure can quickly become vulnerable to layered disasters like a cyber attack.

“Put simply, our power grid needs an upgrade.  It must be strengthened and made more resilient to withstand multiple kinds of disasters.  My amendment seeks to do just that.

“My Amendment is borne out of a bill that I introduced last August – H.R. 2962, the SMART Grid Study Act.   It is supported by the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association, Demand Response & Smart Grid Coalition, and the American Public Power Association.

“Recently, we have seen a significant increase in cyber attacks to our critical infrastructure, and we know that natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy can devastate our power grid, exposing us to attacks from outside actors.  

“These disasters, whether man-made or by Mother Nature, are a drain on our nation’s economy and expose us to other potentially more harmful attacks on our financial industry, chemical, telecommunications, water, wastewater, and energy sectors. 

“My amendment will fully explore the steps we can take to strengthen our power grid, reduce the devastation of these threats, and make us more secure in the process.

“I want to thank Chariman McCaul, Ranking Member Thompson, Chairman Meehan, and Ranking Member Clarke for your leadership and congratulate you on this bipartisan effort to improve cybersecurity and protect critical infrastructure.

“I believe my Amendment would further enhance this effort, and I urge Members of the Committee to support my amendment. 

“With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”