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Xcel Energy names longtime cyber vet as chief security officer

A longtime utility cybersecurity expert and former White House adviser on the issue was named as Xcel Energy’s chief security officer.

James Sample will join the Minneapolis-based utility beginning January 27. He will lead Xcel’s security risk management program, overseeing cybersecurity, physical security and personnel safety.

Sample also will serve as the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s senior manager for critical infrastructure protection (CIP).

 “Cybersecurity, along with the protection of our infrastructure and our people, are critically important to Xcel Energy,” Brett Carter, executive vice president and chief customer and innovation officer for Xcel, said. “Sample is particularly qualified to help us continue to protect against the evolving security threats our industry faces today.”

Prior to joining Xcel Energy, Sample held leadership roles at Ernst & Young LLP, Pacific Gas and Electric, Tennessee Valley Authority and California Independent System Operator. He also served as a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Cyber Policy Task Force, advising the White House on cybersecurity. Additionally, Sample served in the United States Navy as a cryptologic technician.

 “Xcel Energy is a world-class company that is focused on providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy services. Their strategy and vision are industry-leading,” said Sample. “We have an opportunity to innovate and lead in the way we protect Xcel Energy assets and services in order to strengthen the safety, resiliency, and affordability.”

Xcel owns more than 60 generating power plants fueled by coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, hydro and solar. Its overall estimated generating capacity is about 17 GW.

DistribuTECH International, happening January 28-20 in San Antonio, includes a track on Cybersecurity and Incident Response. Speakers are from Exelon, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, National Grid and PJM Interconnection, among others.