The Department of Energy Office of Electricity (DOE-OE) partners with INL on the Protective Relay Permissive Communication (PRPC) program to develop emerging solutions to protect the modern power grid from cyber and physical threats. One of the most important components of the electric power grid is the protective relay. When equipment fails or dangerous actions are initiated, relays protect power systems from damage. Protective relays provide protection against conditions on the power grid which could negatively affect the grid, damage equipment, or cause loss of life.

The PRPC program studies ways to transition protective relay equipment to a limited state. In a limited state, only the most essential relay functions operate. This constrained state represents an additional depth of defense of cybersecurity, while maintaining important business functions.

PRPC Program Objectives

The PRPC program objective is to deliver a broad recommendation to industry on improving cybersecurity depth-of-defense for protective relays, and a simple technology device to support relay owners that has minimal impact to existing critical CIP requirements. The diagram below shows how the program works.

protective relay graphic how it works

 

Constrained Cyber Communication Device (C3D)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed and demonstrated a new technology to detect and block cyberattacks from impacting electric power grid operations. The technology, called the Constrained Cyber Communication Device (C3D), uses advanced communication capabilities to autonomously review and filter commands being sent to protective relay devices. If a malicious command is suspected, the device intelligently and automatically filters it out. Researchers collaborated closely with private industry, academia, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity on its development as part of the Protective Relay Permissive Communication project.

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To demonstrate the ability of the Constrained Cyber Communication device to block a cyberattack on the power grid, researchers constructed a 36-foot long mobile substation and connected it to INL’s full-scale Power Grid Test Bed.

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A picture of the Constrained Cyber Communication device (top) next to a power grid protective relay and a laptop running monitoring software.

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The Constrained Cyber Communication device connected to a protective relay prior to the demonstration.

Contacts

INL Media Contact

Ethan Huffman

Phone: 208-526-5015

Send a Message

INL PRPC Project Contact

 

Jake Gentle • jake.gentle@inl.gov