Mark Mills writes for the Manhattan Institute about trade-offs involved in efforts to make the nation’s electrical grid “greener” and “smarter.”

Electric grids have always been vulnerable to natural hazards and malicious physical attacks. Now the U.S. faces a new risk—cyberattacks—that could threaten public safety and greatly disrupt daily life. Cyberattacks overall have been rising 60 percent annually for the past half-dozen years, and utilities are increasingly targeted. A Cisco study found that 70 percent of utility-security professionals say that they have experienced at least one security breach. The central challenge for U.S. utilities is to accommodate the conflict between political demands for more green energy and society’s demand for more reliable delivery of electricity. Greater grid cybersecurity in the future means that policymakers must rethink the deployment of green and smart grids until there are assurances that security technologies have caught up. While the government needs to improve its vital role in helping with cyber “situational awareness,” the private sector must lead the way in defending against cyberphysical threats that evolve and move at tech-sector—not bureaucratic—velocities.