The power The facility Grid

That is another utility that we don’t often think about, we push the button on the remote control and the TV comes on or we turn the sunshine switch on and the light brightens to light our homes. Now we have all experienced electric outages attributable to storms, natural disasters or even overloaded the electric grid. When this happens the cause is usually immediately known and teams of repair persons are on the way to fix the problems. But what if the electric grid or parts of it goes down because of manmade causes? With natural outages the electric companies can prepare and make plans, with manmade outages the electric companies have problems preparing because they haven’t got a history, that being said they do try and prepare of all outages.

On April 6, 2013 at a Pacific Gas & Electric substation the next happened, unknown people cut ATT fiber optic lines to the substation. This cut off all communication into and out of the substation. They then began firing 100 rounds for about 20 minutes into the substation causing 16 million dollars damage and shutting down that substation. This attack went largely unreported; maybe that is an effective thing. The question is was this just a few jerks being jerks, or was this a test to see how we’d respond.

This was an attack on just one substation; the grid is programmed so that it’s going to automatically switch to other substations to make up for the one that went down. A superb majority of the substations are unmanned, so remote protection must be used. Here is some of that protection:

– Fencing that can detect cutting or being tampered with
– Cameras that scan not only the fence area and the substation, but the surrounding area as well
– Not less than two different forms of communication into and out of the station
– Remote monitoring and calling local police to research if anything suspicious is detected
– High security padlocks on fence gates, access control padlocks needs to be considered
– Background checks of personnel, especially those with access

I am discussing security at unmanned substations, for main electric plants, building and personal security become very important. This will be the discussion of another article.

I’m just touching on this subject. It is far tougher and expensive to properly protect our power grid. That said we will never have it secured if we don’t start, will probably be a long process.

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