On May 1 and 2, 2023, the New Mexico Energy Conservation and Management Division, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), with support from NASEO, hosted Operation Knockout: An Energy Security Tabletop Exercise in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The exercise included participation from several state and federal partners including the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC), Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), local cooperatives, the New Mexico Gas Company, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The main objectives of the exercise were to (1) identify public and private sector roles, responsibilities, authorities, and actions during a natural gas and electrical disruption following a?cyber-attack and during a period of extreme heat, (2) identify communication and coordination protocols between state agencies, the private sector, federal government, other states, and tribal nations used to facilitate energy emergency responses, (3) develop a collective understanding of how a cyberattack might impact existing energy delivery and operational coordination, and (4) identify critical impacts to local communities, including Tribal Nations, that are likely to occur following a long-term electricity disruption.
The scenario focused on a cyberattack on natural gas infrastructure business and operating systems affecting natural gas supply and power generation. This was followed by physical attacks on electrical substations causing prolonged large-scale power outages. Some areas of discussion during the exercise included access to real-time outage data and restoration information, the need to establish communications protocols between the public and private sectors so there can be coordination on messaging, and specific resource needs of isolated communities. The exercise will serve as a base for more regular communication between these groups and provided valuable feedback as EMNRD continues to update the New Mexico State Energy Security Plan.