IPERC wins second DoD cybersecure microgrid contract

Published on: August 10, 2017 9:06 amBy: ESJ


Intelligent Power & Energy Research Corporation —  IPERC — is set to roll out its cyber security controls product called GridMaster to utility and municipality applications after announcing on July 26 that it had been authorized for military use.

The US Department of Defense issued a so-called ATO — Authorization to Operate — of the company’s microgrid control system for use at its Fort Carson Army base in Colorado.

The authorization followed testing and evaluation of the GridMaster’s security capabilities by the US Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center.

The GridMaster is the only microgrid control system to have been granted such an authorization.

GridMaster also monitors real time status of the microgrid components using algorithms to make decisions — such as turning off unneeded generation — and issuing control signals to meet critical loads and minimize fuel consumption.

Brad Luyster, director of business development at IPERC, told Energy Storage Journal that when designing a system, you had to think about how the system was going to be used. “For the internet you have firewalls,” he said. “And they stop people coming in and out of the system; you blacklist the person or IP address, but from the military point of view or microgrids perspective you whitelist, which means you only allow certain people in.

“You have to think about how not to allow intruders or intrusion, so it becomes both a physical and cyber process.”

“Utilities are thinking about cyber security in a retroactive rather than pro-active way. They are doing things like firewall systems, taking those precautions, but when looking at it, a lot of hacks come from within the system. Think, for example, of a disgruntled employee, who may be in the system for 18 months before the hacker does anything. Generally they will come in, have a play around for a while and figure out how it works, then decide to take action.

“So you have to protect the system from within. If, for example, there’s hackers from China you can prevent that, but from within is much more of a challenge.”

Darrell Massie, founder and CTO of IPERC, said his company was looking to transfer cybersecurity achievements to additional market segments, such as utilities and municipalities.

IPERC led the design of controls, communications, and cybersecurity for this and other phases of the SPIDERS (Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security) program.

The latest authorization follows that of a microgrid control system at Marine Corps Base Camp Smith, Hawaii by IPERC in August 2015.

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