More than 80 employees from across MISO recently got a glimpse of what it would be like to operate the grid in a catastrophic event – and how to prepare for it – during GridEx 2017.
GridEx is a biennial exercise designed to simulate a cyber/physical attack on electric and other critical infrastructures across North America. It’s hosted by the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
MISO Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer Keri Glitch said the exercise is a way to bring multiple organizations together to practice communication and coordinated decision making in a potential disaster situation.
“GridEx is an opportunity to put ourselves through the paces of a highly intense event that allows us to challenge assumptions and identify opportunities for better preparation,” Glitch said. “This is an integrated exercise that also allows participants to play with many partners who would be involved in a real event. We know collaboration and our external relationships will be key in this type of event.”
In addition to electric utilities, GridEx also brings together regional and federal government agencies, critical infrastructure organizations and supply chain stakeholder partners.
The simulated event included both cyber and physical attacks that ravaged the nation’s power grid and left organizations unable to communicate across normal channels.
Multiple MISO teams from Information Technology, Operations, Security, Compliance, the ITOC and Corporate Communications participated. In addition, MISO’s Crisis Management Team gathered each day to assess events and practice decision-making.
The drill is part of ongoing training and preparation that MISO operators undergo on a regular basis.
“It’s another opportunity to exercise our skills, practice in fast-evolving scenarios and then look at lessons learned for optimum grid recovery and resiliency,” noted Rob Benbow, executive director of Grid Operations. “We continually look at ways to train and improve. We are essentially testing our playbook to ensure we outline the high-level actions we would need to consider in the event of such challenging events.”