Basin Electric employees participate in continent-wide security exercise

Sixty Basin Electric employees took part in GridEx VII, a continent-wide security exercise held on Nov. 14-15.

Sponsored and administered by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the biennial exercise provided the electricity industry, government agencies, and other relevant organizations the opportunity to exercise incident response and recovery plans in response to simulated cyber and physical attacks and other contingencies affecting North America’s electricity system.

The goal of GridEx VII was to exercise the resilience of the North American electricity system in the face of a coordinated attack. Teams participated in several scenarios involving coordinated physical and cyber-attacks on critical energy infrastructure.

Basin Electric employees from several departments were among the thousands that took part in the scenarios. Amanda Wangler, Basin Electric senior compliance engineer, and Jim Sheldon, manager of Basin Electric’s security operations center, coordinated the cooperative’s role in the exercise. Representatives from the North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center (NDSLIC),  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), also participated in the exercise.

“The GridEx exercise gives the cooperative a chance to work through critical response plans with real-life scenarios that are tailored to the cooperative,” Wangler said. “By working through mock incidents, we are able to observe how the response plans work and are able to see areas for improvement along with areas of strength. This exercise also gives employees a chance to open the lines of communication and work side by side with people and departments they may not otherwise have day-to-day interactions with.”

“This year’s exercise was a success due to advanced planning of real-life scenarios and great participation by key departments,” Sheldon said. “By taking the time to participate in exercises such as GridEx, the cooperative is more prepared to work through unplanned incidents. Our response plans become stronger each time they are exercised, and employees are more capable of dealing with incidents in a professional and efficient manner. The continuous improvement is thanks to all those who participated.“

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