International Regulatory Enforcement (PHIRE)

Executive Order Restricts Acquisition of Bulk Power System Equipment from Foreign Adversaries

May 12, 2020

William DeGrandis & Nicholas J. Guidi

On May 1, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System (“Executive Order”). The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Energy to restrict the acquisition and use of electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by foreign adversaries and any entities controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction of such foreign adversaries in connection with the Bulk-Power System (“BPS”). Recognizing that the BPS may be a target of malicious actors and that any successful attack could significantly impair the country’s economy, safety, and defense, the Executive Order seeks to curtail the ability of such actors to “create and exploit vulnerabilities in bulk-power system electric equipment” to potentially catastrophic effect. Given this broadly protective goal, the Executive Order has wide-ranging implications for the electric power industry, including electric utilities, generator and transmission project developers and owners, as well as vendors and others doing business with these industry participants. Many details will need to be worked out, but this will be an important initiative for industry participants to monitor and likely become actively involved with, as the processes described below are established and the tenets of the Executive Order are implemented.

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