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First Quarter Letter to Members

Brad Cox
Generator and/or Power Marketer Sector and Board Chair
Sara Patrick
MRO President and CEO

From the Board Chair and President and CEO

Dear Members and Stakeholders:

Data security was a key area of focus at MRO’s first quarter board meetings last week. The board’s Organizational Group Oversight Committee (OGOC) kicked off the discussions in a closed risk roundtable on Insider Threats, which is one of the high risks identified in MRO’s 2023 Regional Risk Assessment. The leadership of MRO’s three industry-led advisory councils (Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program, Reliability, and Security), key staff, and a majority of board members attended the meeting and participated in the discussion. There was candid sharing of information and best practices related to identifying, assessing, and reducing the risk of Insider Threats. This is the third such roundtable that the OGOC has hosted—bringing together the expertise that exists across the industry—to create greater alignment between strategic risk dialogue and the work of MRO’s organizational groups and staff.

The security theme continued at the board meetings the next day. In executive session, the board heard updates on the status of MRO’s Insider Threat Program and other corporate initiatives that strengthen data protection and the overall security posture of the organization. The board also reviewed and approved corporate goals and metrics for 2023 that not only support industry in addressing a multitude of reliability and security risks, but also promote a highly engaged, curious, and competent workforce. The 2023 goals support the three priorities of People, Processes, and Partnerships in MRO’s 2022-2024 Strategic Plan, as well as the shared ERO Enterprise vision and mission.

During the open board meeting, Industrial Control System (ICS) Lead with the FBI’s cyber division, Joel Max, provided insight on the ever evolving cyber and physical security threat landscape. He reminded us that continued coordination and partnership between industry and government is critical to identifying, assessing and mitigating ICS risk. Much of MRO’s focus over the past decade has been on building a framework of collaboration, which can be seen through the work of MRO’s advisory councils. A great example is the Security Advisory Council’s Threat Forum, which was established in 2019 to provide security personnel across the region an opportunity to share information on new and emerging threats. More than 200 individuals from industry, the ERO Enterprise, and the Electricity-Information Sharing and Analysis Center attend these weekly calls. More information on the Threat Forum and how to participate is available on MRO’s website.

Also at the open board meeting, Jeff Gendreau from Baker Tilly, provided a report on MRO’s 2022 external financial audit. He commended MRO for an unqualified or unmodified report, noting that MRO has conformed to the generally accepted accounting principles and been prepared to provide information to the auditors as requested. The final, approved audit report will be available soon on the corporate documents page of MRO’s website.

In addition to hearing board committee and other administrative reports, the board took the following actions during the meeting:

  • Approved 2023 corporate goals and metrics.
  • Approved recommendation that Todd Hillman, President and CEO of Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, be presented to MRO Members for election as Regional Director.
  • Appointed Julie Peterson as Corporate Secretary and Carolina Margaria as Assistant Corporate Secretary.
  • Approved Ethics Policy revisions.
  • Approved 2024 Independent Director Compensation.
  • Accepted the independent audit report of MRO’s 2022 financial statements.

You can read more about the discussions and actions taken at the first quarter board meeting in the full meeting minutes, which will be available on MRO’s website calendar soon.  

We continue to be impressed with the level of engagement at, and meaningful output from, MRO’s quarterly board meetings and encourage MRO members and registered entities to participate.

Brad Cox, Board Chair                                                 Sara Patrick, President and CEO