SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation today that will increase security for all municipal utilities in Illinois. The new law outlines specific safeguards that will be adopted by municipal utility facilities, including electric public utilities, restricting access to critical infrastructure. Utilities are among our state’s most critical infrastructure components, providing drinking water, energy and electricity to millions of households and businesses. Protecting utilities from vandalism or terrorist attacks is important to the state’s overall security.
“We need to know exactly who we are allowing to enter our public utility sites around the state,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This new law makes sure we know that the men and women who have access to our water treatment plants and our electrical and gas facilities can be trusted to keep the people of Illinois safe.”
House Bill 2580, sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. Lyons (D-Chicago) and Sen. James A. DeLeo (D-Chicago), requires the Illinois State Police to release certain information to utility administrators for the purpose of evaluating whether a person should be granted access to municipal utility facilities. Those administrators can also deny access based on criminal conviction information obtained under the Criminal Identification Act.
Also, under this new law, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) will require all electric public utilities to establish a security policy that includes on-site safeguards to restrict physical or electronic access to the facility or data systems. The ICC will also require a record of every power supplier along with an annual affidavit verifying the utility is following the most current security guidelines set forth by the North American Electric Reliability Council.
“We want to make sure the utility companies that provide us with power and water are protected from terrorist attacks,” said Sen. DeLeo. “By making sure each power supplier is following current security guidelines, we decrease the risk of a potential attack.”
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, there have been a few reported cases of "credible threats" to the nation's public works. These include an unspecified report from June that New York City area power plants and electric grids were targets for attack, as well as a general warning in December of 2003 that prompted the governors of New York and Massachusetts to step up security around their power plants and chemical facilities.