Majority of Americans Concerned About Cyber Attacks on Grid

April 10, 2017
Fewer than 9 percent of Americans believe the government is doing all it should to protect the grid from attack.

More than 60 percent of Americans believe the nation's electric power transmission grid is vulnerable to either cyber or physical attacks from foreign enemies, a new poll by Protect Our Power (POP), an organization of experts dedicated to protecting the electric transmission and distribution system, revealed. Fewer than 9 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government is doing all it should to protect the electric grid from a potential attack.

A statistically valid 1,207 Americans were polled by Survey Monkey during the last week of March and responded to a variety of potential scenarios about the nation's power supply. Some of the key findings included:

  • Nearly 70 percent are aware of threats to the grid, such as cyber and physical attacks
  • Nearly 61 percent believe the electric grid is vulnerable to a cyber or physical attack
  • Nearly 64 percent would feel unsafe in the event of an extended power outage
  • Nearly 65 percent say they are unprepared for an extended power outage
  • More than 68 percent say they would anticipate significant financial or quality-of-life damage in the event of an extended outage
  • Fewer than 9 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government is doing all it should to protect the grid from a potential attack

The poll's margin of error is +/- 3%.

"The reliable and uninterrupted flow of power sustains the American way of life," said Jim Cunningham, executive director of Protect Our Power. "Recently, we've learned of increased cyber attacks and there is a growing real concern expressed by the American people about our vulnerabilities."

Protect Our Power, founded in 2016, is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to unite key stakeholder groups, including industry groups, utilities, security experts, government and defense authorities, and public policy influencers to expedite efforts toward fortifying the grid against all threats, foreign and domestic.

POP has launched a collective effort among diverse stakeholders to address the vulnerabilities of the grid and to illuminate the path to successfully securing the power infrastructure from physical harm and cyber threats.

"The nation's electric grid is incredibly complex," said Suedeen Kelly, POP's regulatory counsel and chair of the energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice at Washington law firm Akin Gump, and a former commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "To improve the grid's resilience, we must help industry leaders, regulators and legislators work together to determine and implement the most practicable solutions with suitable funding mechanisms to pay for them."

The nation's electric grid is comprised of both private and public generation and distribution companies, which operate under both federal and state regulation. This complexity poses additional challenges to creating effective resiliency solutions and the funding methods that will be required.

The complete poll results are available on the Protect Our Power website:

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