We’ve already seen the devastating impact disruptions to public utilities and the power grid can have on the economy and people’s lives. Utilities, particularly smaller, more vulnerable electric providers, must take advantage of every available tool to avoid another major outage. As winter takes hold and supply chain issues leave utilities more unprepared, fears of another power grid failure like Texas in 2021—which left 20 million without power—are rising. Indeed, New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission recently warned residents citizens that supply chain issues may incapacitate the state’s energy companies.

The materials shortage is leading many providers of critical infrastructure to brace for debilitating impacts on the industry, and consumers. From the scarcity of semiconductor chips and solar panels or the impact of Omicron, public utilities fear they may lack vital tools needed to keep or restore power if disaster strikes. As the global supply chain disruption rages on and companies continue to deal with the ripple effects of the labor shortage, one thing remains clear—utilities must upgrade to protect the grid.

To prepare themselves and the grid for demand spikes and power surges, public utility companies must have cohesive, modern, and technologically advanced solutions in place. It is nearly impossible to protect critical energy infrastructure with antiquated software and protocols. No utility company wake up to headlines blaming them for another Texas-like event that stalls operations and leaves countless customers without power.

A simple but vital action public utilities can take to reduce the effects of supply chain bottlenecks is to better protect against other risks to the grid. For instance, an automated critical infrastructure protection and energy management platform can help eliminate significant threats like cyberattacks. These attacks are more likely to happen during persistent supply chain disruptions because public utilities lack critical tools and parts needed to respond to malware attacks. Supply chain disruptions leave utilities without the materials needed to fully function around the clock, forcing companies to halt certain operations or move forward with a smaller team. The result? A small staff attempting to provide essential services with minimal equipment – leaving fewer staff and resources to focus on cybersecurity.

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