A security partnership between the electric utility industry and the federal government is monitoring the situation in Las Vegas after a shooter killed at least 58 people and injured hundreds more in a rampage Sunday night.
The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, or ESCC, which was created to protect the nation's power grid from physical or cyberattacks, said it is "tied into [the Department of Homeland Security] and monitoring the situation," said Scott Aaronson, the Edison Electric Institute's executive director for security and part of the ESCC secretariat, in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
"Should anything be relevant to the electricity sector, we will be communicating that to our community," he added. The Edison Electric Institute is the lead trade association for the investor-owned utility sector. The electricity council is made up of power company CEOs and government officials.
The federal government and the electricity industry formed the council under the Obama administration to create a permanent link between federal security agencies and the electricity sector because of the growing risk to the grid from physical and cyberattacks, including from shooters.
An attack staged by several gunmen on the U.S. electricity industry in 2013 underscored the growing risk from armed attackers. Gunmen armed with high-powered sniper rifles attempted to cause a major power outage in California by staging a coordinated assault on 17 electricity substations, which are used to move electricity from high-powered transmissions lines to commercial and residential users.
The plan failed, but not before causing $15 million in damage. None of the assailants was caught.
Any coordinated cyber or physical attack in the U.S. or overseas is tracked and monitored to some degree by the ESCC. Depending on the risk, an alert system housed within the congressionally chartered North American Electric Reliability Corporation is activated, sending guidance to the power companies based on expert analysis of the threat.
The council also has been active in providing updates to the industry on the hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.