Electric Industry Sparks Call for More Security

A bill before the legislature proposes keeping details of the state’s electrical grid secret.

Senator Tom Briese of Albion wants to exempt critical infrastructure from the open records law.

Senator Tom Brewer, the chairman of the Government committee, said it would be particularly important for the power grid that supplies military installations like Offutt air base. “Even though Stratcom has backup sources of power,” Brewer said, “understanding how those networks work and how you could negatively affect that would possibly be a factor with the continuity of government, which is part of what their mission there is, [as well as] the release of thermonuclear weapons and a national response.

Representatives of the Lincoln Electric System told Senators that information about their critical infrastructure and security personnel should also be exempt from freedom of information requests.

Shelley Sahling Zart of the Lincoln Electric System said that information, in the wrong hands, can be dangerous. “Unfortunately,” Zart said, “if you know somebody’s identity, you can find out where their kids are going to school, you can find out where they live, you can use that kind of information to threaten or extort information and access it from them.”

Kevin Wailes, the head of Lincoln Electric System, told senators that utilities need to share information about security, but added that privately owned utilities not subject to the open records laws are currently reluctant to share their information with public power companies.

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