National exercise to validate and improve readiness for cybersecurity and crisis events

Little Rock, Ark. — Nov. 20, 2015 — Approximately 77 representatives from Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), the electric distribution cooperatives, FBI, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the Arkansas Governor’s office and the Arkansas Public Service Commission participated in the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) GridEx III exercise on Wednesday and Thursday at the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas offices in Little Rock.

According to Duane Highley, president/CEO of AECC/AECI, the GridEx III exercise was a national drill that included two days of live distributed scenarios and an executive tabletop discussion. GridEx III included representatives of electric utilities and multiple local, state and federal government agencies from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The exercise involved simulated cyber and physical attack scenarios which were designed to increase coordination and preparedness among members of the electric sector throughout North America.

“Our mission is to provide our 17 electric distribution cooperatives in Arkansas with reliable and affordable wholesale electricity service. Simulated exercises such as these allow our staff to practice our contingency and response plans, improve those plans, and hone our skills to be prepared for potential future events,” Highley said. We also use this opportunity to improve our coordination capabilities with multiple industry sector partners at the local, state and federal levels.”

AECC and AECI officials work throughout the year to stay abreast of threats to the national, regional and state electricity infrastructure. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas were the only state regulated electric providers in Arkansas that participated in the exercise.

“We value our partnerships with government and industry organizations in our efforts to ensure the highest level of reliability in the event of a cyber or physical crisis,” he said. “An exercise of this magnitude is invaluable to maintaining the integrity of the electric grid and being prepared to efficiently respond to attacks in today’s environment.”

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

For additional information, contact:
Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or