PULLMAN, Wash. -- The U.S. Energy Department just rewarded Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories a multi-million dollar award. The Pullman company is tasked with developing technologies to better protect the nation's electric grid from cyber-attack.
"When Dr. Schweitzer started the company, cyber-security was at a foremost consideration when we built our products and it's only continued as we've progressed and grown the company," said David Whitehead, Vice President of Research and Development for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
The company works with partners and customers around the world to ensure the safe, reliable, and economical delivery of electric power.
"We would like to say we were doing cyber-security before cyber-security was even cool," Whitehead added.
The U.S. Energy Department has turned to Schweitzer for help along with ten other security vendors. The group will develop new tools and technologies to strengthen protection of the nation's electric grid. They also work to strengthen oil and gas infrastructure from anyone who tries to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks that monitor and control those energy resources.
"Taking the cyber-security aspect, how do you protect and encrypt the data? That's one part of it, but also how the data gets around in any particular network in a controlled fashion is another part of this effort we are doing," said Whitehead.
Schweitzer's reward from the Department of Energy totals nearly $13 million. The company will work on development of an integrated cyber and physical security system that gives power operators a clear picture people are doing in the cyber world and in and around their facilities.
Schweitzer will also use the grant to develop radio technologies that can transmit critical information like volts and watts from power poles in the rural areas. Its third project will be to control how power gets from one place to the next.
"Particularly that it doesn't take another route," said Whitehead. "From me to somewhere else, and then to you which can happen in normal IT networks in which you may find in an office building."
Schweitzer engineers simply said they were honored to receive the grant.