Power Grid Down November 2013
Vulnerabilities in the power grid are finally garnering more than a little attention by the government.
A “power down” drill planned for November will be conducted in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Utility workers, government agencies, FBI agents, anti- terrorism experts and private businesses are involved.
The drill will mainly focus on electromagnetic pulses (EMP’s) physical and cyber attacks. The geriatric electrical system in the United States has been one of the most neglected pieces of integral infrastructure.
In 2008 Congress created the EMP Commission released a report demanding increased testing and planning, and called for the stockpiling of necessary items.
The Shield Act which is currently stalled in Congress, is the first piece of legislation in years to attempt to seriously address the vulnerabilities of the power grid. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States power grid a D+, after considering the public services and infrastructure in the US.
This disaster drill is being described as a crisis practice unlike anything the real power grid has ever experienced. The GridXII drill scheduled for November 13-14 2013, will focus on how local, state and national governments will react if the electrical grid fails and the food supply chain collapses as a consequence.
American utility companies are responsible for running approximately 5,800 power plants and over 450,000 high-voltage transmission lines, which are controlled by devices that were put into place decades ago. Utility companies which oversee the power grid reportedly use “antique computer protocols” which are “probably” safe from cyber hackers,” The New York Times reported.
The Times said experts call the power grid the nation’s “glass jaw.” Even the military gets 99 percent of its power the same way citizens get it – from commercially run companies.
“If an adversary lands a knockout blow, [experts] fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11,” The Times said.
Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Curt Hebert stated that if the nation fails at electricity, “we’re going to fail miserably” at everything else.
Hebert noted that during prior power grid drills, the scenario assumed the system would be up and running again relatively quickly after an attack. This drill will assume it’s out much longer.
If the power grid were to fail, a lack of food delivery and electricity are only the first wave of troubles facing the people. Police will face major problems of civil unrest. And due to the fact there also would not be any electric heating or cooling, there could easily be many deaths depending on the season.
A 2012 report by the National Academy of Science said terrorists could cripple the nation by destroying hard-to-replace components, many of which aren’t even made in the United States.
“Of particular concern are giant custom-built transformers that increase the voltage of electricity to levels suited for bulk transmission and then reduce voltage for distribution to customers,” The Times said in a summary of the report. “… Replacing them can take many months.”
Clark W. Gellings, a researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, said “I don’t think we pay quite enough attention to the technology fixes that would allow us to make the power system more resilient.”
Related Prepare for a power outage
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