King, Collins Push to Protect Critical U.S. Infrastructure from Huawei

Letter calls for government to examine ban of Huawei inverters from electric grid

WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues to send a letter to the Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, urging them to protect our electrical systems and infrastructure from potential cyberattacks by banning the use of inverters made by the Chinese-owned company, Huawei Technologies Co, Ltd.  In addition to Senators King and Collins, the letter was signed by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).

 

“Huawei has recently become the world’s largest maker of inverters - the sophisticated control systems that have allowed the rapid expansion of residential and utility scale energy production.  Both large-scale photovoltaic systems and those used by homeowners, school districts, and businesses are equally vulnerable to cyberattacks.  Our federal government should consider a ban on the use of Huawei inverters in the United States and work with state and local regulators to raise awareness and mitigate potential threats,” the Senators wrote.

 

“We urge you to work with all federal, state and local regulators, as well as the hundreds of independent power producers and electricity distributors nation-wide to ensure our systems are protected.  We stand ready and willing to provide any assistance you need to secure our critical electricity infrastructure.”

 

Defending our energy infrastructure from potential cyberattacks has been a key priority for Senators King and Collins, both of whom serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator King is the author of the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senator Collins that would protect the U.S. energy grid by partnering with industry to utilize engineering concepts to remove vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to access the grid through holes in digital software systems. The legislation unanimously passed the Senate in December 2018, but the House of Representatives did not take action on the bill before the end of the 115th Congress.

 

The signed letter is here, and full text is below.

 

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Dear Secretaries Perry and Nielsen:

 

We write to express our concern over the national security threat products manufactured by Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei) pose to our nation’s critical energy infrastructure.  We understand that Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar inverters, is attempting to access our domestic residential and commercial markets.  Congress recently acted to block Huawei from our telecommunications equipment market due to concerns with the company’s links to China’s intelligence services.  We urge similar action to protect critical U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure.

 

Huawei has recently become the world’s largest maker of inverters - the sophisticated control systems that have allowed the rapid expansion of residential and utility scale energy production.  Both large-scale photovoltaic systems and those used by homeowners, school districts, and businesses are equally vulnerable to cyberattacks.  Our federal government should consider a ban on the use of Huawei inverters in the United States and work with state and local regulators to raise awareness and mitigate potential threats.

 

We urge you to work with all federal, state and local regulators, as well as the hundreds of independent power producers and electricity distributors nation-wide to ensure our systems are protected.  We stand ready and willing to provide any assistance you need to secure our critical electricity infrastructure. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter of national security.