The utility industry went on high alert over the weekend after terrorists attacked downtown Paris, federal and industry officials said Thursday.

The alert was part of a highly orchestrated plan that industry and government have established in recent years to protect the nation's electricity supply system, the life-blood of the economy, from physical attacks from shooters or cyber espionage targeting a power plant's command-and-control systems. The industry and government have a number of hubs where they share information on threats and coordinate their response.

"I can assure you … [the threat information sharing hub] was turned on after Paris … and there has been coordination" throughout the weekend between the government and industry, said Tom Fanning, CEO of utility Southern Co. and co-chairman of a special group created by the Energy Department to protect the grid.

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