The threat of a cyber attack is forcing Missouri’s biggest power companies to come up with a plan. The Public Service Commission says the risk is growing and electric companies must be able to handle it.The three biggest companies in the state: Kansas City Power and Light, Empire District Electric in the Springfield area, and Ameren Missouri say having a plan is their top priority.Missouri has not seen a large scale attack in the state yet, but the emphasis is yet.A potential cyber attack to major companies would cripple the state in ways few could imagine. That’s why the Public Service Commissioners want to know how Missouri’s large utility companies would make sure the power stays on. The companies compare the effects of a cyber attack to that of a natural disaster, but crews have never dealt with an attack before.”You can’t stop a flood, you can’t stop a tornado, but you want to make sure your utilities are prepared in those cases to respond to them and recover from them as quickly as they can,” said Public Service Commissioner Terry Jarrett.Commissioners say they need to know if the companies have a system in place for protection up front and if that protection fails, are the companies prepared to get everything back on in a timely manner? If those protections are not as good as the commission believes they should be, changes would need to be made quickly.However, power companies told the commission that a new system costs money and that means rate hikes for customers, which take up to nearly a year to approve.”It would cost too much to design a perfect system that would protect against every attack, so you have to spend what’s reasonable and prudent,” said Jarrett.The commission says everything is on the table right now and they are coming up with recommendations on what is good, bad and where improvements need to be made with each company’s plan. The commission also says companies need to follow federal standards for preparedness, but the state might come up with additional requirements.
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