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Securing the National Grid(s)
2

Securing the National Grid(s)

Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
I did a search on the subject of this new thread
and did not see any forums on this site... maybe
there is a thread somewhere. Anyway I'm putting
this new thread on top of climate change thread here
under "Where is Engineering Going In The Next 5 Years
Forum".

Are there any thoughts on the subject? Is it a
concern or not? The federal government (US government)
can not seem to move on this issue, in IMHO it is.

I came across the following site: http://www.securethegrid.org/

G-pa Dave
PS: Hearing the audio book "One Second After" woke me up. pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Fifty years ago, the grid owners were possessive enough, or pro-active enough, to send tree trimming crews around twice a year to keep persistent flora under control. Recently, they have come to expect Federal help for everything, including post-storm repairs, so they do zero pre-storm prevention.

According to what apparently passes for modern business logic, prevention of outages is a needless expense if someone else is going to pay for repairs.

We apparently can't stop our guvvamint from purchasing such dependency.

We also can't stop our guvvamint from engaging in self-delusion, specifically at least the fantasy that unemployment is not widespread.

Therein lies the core of one potential solution...

I.e., pay people to establish residency near essential grid components.

... No, belay that; pay them to live near and guard _all_ of the grid. We certainly have a sufficient number of people available to do that effectively.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Can an EMP attack shut down the national grid here in America?
I have been hearing reports that our public utilities electrical grids
and all things with microprocessors and such can not survive such an attack.
America over a matters of days would fall back into the early 19th century.
And the current population of 310 million would drop to about 30 million
in a few short years... Military equipment is hardened for such events.
So join the military to survive... Not.

G-pa atom

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I don't think _one_ EMP event could shut down the entire grid.

I do think one worm could cause a lot of trouble, and more so as the 'smart grid' fad spreads.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

It doesn't take a EMP to shut the grid down. A "Carrington Event" occuring in our modern era will do it. Just in the past week, a solar flare of this potential was emitted by the sun but missed earth.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
H.R.2417 - Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act (aka Shield Act)
This act was introduced last June and is sitting there still. Do you feel this is a waste of taxpayers
money or should the bill move forward?
pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I don't think they can do much at this point. There are two threats in my mind.

Attach on infrastructure in remote areas with virtually no prospect of even being caught.

Cyber attack on networked critical control systems.


For the first one not much could be done even with a lot of money. Ballistic shielding of substations reduces
one route but may well cause other issues with equipment cooling.

For the cyber part i think strong consideration should be given every time some engineer wants to throw his
equipment on the network for convenience as to whether it is really necessary and design primarily for monitoring
with limited control abilities from the network.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Aging (and poorly maintained) infrastructure is a larger concern than sabotage. Although, nothing gets you funding faster in American than using the word “terrorism”…and nothing gets you funding slower in America than using the words “preventative maintenance”.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

So why are we potting so many micro-processor devices to protect our power grid? The electromechinical devices, some of which lasted 75 years, did a good job and did not have any EMP problems.

Solar panels are another example of devices that would not survive an EMP.

Most of the things that are a concern are NEW stuff, that the goverment is asking for.

And if your smart meter quits working, is that a problem?

Yes we can harden substations, at a price. The president did say your electricty prices will necessarly rise.
He did not say it was exclusivley from out lawing coal generation.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
We all have opinions with pros and cons. But when an EMP event actually occurs,
we'll all be Monday morning quarterbacks. In particular the news media will go
ape-s**t. But not to worry, no one will be able to communicate so there’s no
problem except trying to survive.

If you have not read “One Second After”, read that book and come back here.

G-pa pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Why can't our securty guards carry guns? Because they might hurt somebody.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Cranky... It's hard to shoot an EMP device at high altitude with a hand gun!
Devices are sent from North Korea or Iran with love... Of course Russia and
China can send their love too. Of course we could call MI5 for their help
but alas they would have their own problems in the UK! colorface

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Sounds very much like something that the erstwhile mayor of the moon, Newt, would conjure up after watching The Matrix.

Was this intended as a cartoon?

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Are you saying that EMP is the only issue we need to worry about? If so we only need one solution.

If instead, we have several issues, then maybe we need several solutions. So I ask again: Why can't our securty guards carry guns? Because they might hurt somebody.

EMP is more of a problem to our society than just the electric grid. After all what good is an electric grid if only a few customers can use the energy.
Just look at your house and tell me what would survive an EMP event?

No to TV, Radio, New washing machines and dryers, no swerly light bulbs, no LED's, no electric cars, no car newer than about 1985, no microwave, ...

So again I ask what customers would be prepared to take energy.

And what an advantage for the Chiniese, they can sell us all this new stuff, after the event.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Better store a spare laptop in a metal trash can! winky smile

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
-Dalai Lama XIV

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Cranky... No it's not the only one. But, IMO, it's the only one
that will take us back to the early 19th century overnight. pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Comcokid... You got me there. If we had another solar storm like that of 1859,
that would be worse than a specific EMP attack on the US. It would shut down the world.
Would a Shield Act harden us for that type of event? pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Well lets explore what will be injored by an EMP.

Wire, No, Insulators, they may flash, but should be OK (if not the polymer stuff), Transformers, maybe if the arrestors don't work. Arrestors, likely to fail, unless they are over sized.
Generators, well the leads are normally in a metalic duct, so maybe not. Electric meters, solid-state, so likely. protective relays, the solid-state maybe.
Circuit breakers, depending on the type.

On the other hand, what consumer goods will survive? Edison bulbs, electric heaters, vacuum tubes, motors maybe.

Don't point at the utilities, if the customers have only been buying the cheep electronics.

But you could also point at many other industries with the same issues, like airlines, car manufacturers, the internet, movie theaters, radio stations, consumer goods, etc.
So put your own house in order before you become criticle of others.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Cranky... No concerns at all. Cool. Those pesky consumers have been buying
cheep electronics. They should have bought military hardened electronics for an
extra couple of bucks. If you have an old car without microprocessors and real
windows that have good old fashion mechanical cranks you might get around for
awhile. Hopefully you can find an old fashion mechanical hand pump to fill up
your car.

Gee... I just don't trust anything electrical. I must be Chicken Little or
am I that Peter in Peter and the Wolf. rainbow

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

The problem seems to be that the media wants to use the power industry as a whipping boy. The issue isen't that there is no problems, it is that we want to point fingers.

The other issue is the gee wiz factor of society ignores the issues of sustainability, and situational awareness. These are things we as engineers should be looking at.
The fact is low cost, and sparkling lights is more important to many people.

For years electric utilities were regulated as to what they can and can't install for the customer benifit. Suddenly people have forgotten those regulators are in charge, and they don't care about EMP, or fanitics.

Example: how many people that you know have a generator? How many have spare parts for it? How many have more than a few days worth of fuel?
FEMA recommends each of us have at least three days of food and water.

Most utilities do have a supply of fuel (unless it is wind, solar, or gas), to be able to ride past fuel disruptions. Most utilities are part of a grid so they can share resources (not everyone thinks they can use it for free). And most utilities have power production in reserve.

So how are companies in your line of business prepared for business disruptions?

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Cranky... Living in Florida for 30+ years, I have a generator and a survival kit.
This is hurricane country but this year thanks to El Nino the predictions are for
few major storms. We are ready for the long haul for survival too... call me crazy
but I might have to shoot neighbors to survive! Yes, too many people have been and
are taking things for granted. Take away their iPhones and they go nuts... I don't
have a Smart phone. Most critical companies, i.e., utilities, hospitals, police,
ire, etc. probably are good to go for the short term. But then all hell breaks out
and it's everyone for themselves. Are you prepared for that... or is it just silly?

Better prepared than dead. pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

"Are you prepared for that... or is it just silly?"

Not at all silly. People tend to forget history. I believe another poster on another thread said something to the effect that "we're all only 4 meals away from a total collapse of civilization". Something to that effect, coldly accurate.

People think the government is our savior, which couldn't be further from the truth. There's one person who has your best interest in mind . . . . you!

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Some people (as in most) forget that utility rates depend on cost of fuel, and equipment. Hardening of equipment is a cost which directly hits the customer bill (at least some utilities can pass 100% of this cost to customers).

So are you saying you would rather invest in your local utility company, or your personal enviroment?

The utilities are the low cost provider in electricty, but are soft targets for things that happen. Just how much is it worth for the little improvment you get? Your already better than 99.9%. What else can you say is that reliable? Is your car, the local store, the police department?

Securing the grid is more of a moto for wind farm investers who want someone else to pay for there issues, so they can better line there pockets with goverment money.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Cranky... "So are you saying you would rather invest in your local utility company,
or your personal enviroment?"

No, no... You are getting way off base and in a different ball park.
Reread my 1st post at the beginning:

Are there any thoughts on the subject? Is it a concern or not?
The federal government (US government) can not seem to move on
this issue, in IMHO it is. I came across the following site:
http://www.securethegrid.org/


Then I brought up the Federal Shield Act, H.R.2417 where the federal government
would secure the grid. Maybe I wasn't clear and we got off base.
I'm assuming you are a utility engineer and our PO'ed at most customers. Then again
maybe not. "Assumption is the Mother of all Screw Ups" --- unknown

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Solar flares could disable most of the electric grid, unless minor modifications to the grounding of installed transformers are made pro-actively or as a preventive measure. Either the gov't should legislate the action, or the insurance companies and/or utility stockholders demand such measures be implemented.

Secondary damage due to long term loss of the grid is also terrifying- consider that the inability to reliably cool the stored inventory of spent nuclear fuel pools would lead to roughly 90 Fukushima-type events in the continental US. We really are a rather stupid yet proud species .

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad "

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I am a utilty engineer, and I am PO'ed at goverment regulations that don't help the consumers. The issue is that most consumers will say they want lower cost energy, however all these goverment regulations increase the cost of energy. The local grid was built to serve local customers, not some wind farm, or some other feel good project. In effect the local customers are being taken advantage of by some of these regulations.

More to the point, I work for a non-profit, so regulations directly effect the consumers rates. There are no profits, only taxes paid (actually passed through).

Solar flare issues are typically a short term event, which can be mitigated by opening interties, and since we can generate 100% of our own energy, that is an option. However, goverment regulations prevent that, in favor of more costly solutions.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Most consumers, me included, do not appreciate the effects of sky-rocketing
regulations impacts on everything. All I see is a huge $500 per month electric bill.

Since oil and gas are the bad forms of energy for the current administration,
cost to consumers will keep going north: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4

But securing the national grid cannot be a private enterprise, can it? It will
require federal funds but I don't think the current administration sees it that way.
I believe that why the Shield Act is in limbo.

I don't know what the answer is, but burying one's head in the sand will bit us later
when it's too late.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
I forgot to mention that COAL was the real bad guy above even oil and gas...

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

One issue that is in the works, is fuel mix. In that too much dependence on any one fuel is a problem in price, and delevery shocks. And add to that the demand that utilities take more and more power from unstable energy sources, like wind (I would say solar, but as it is more dependable than wind I won't).

Every utility also faces local enviromental issues like earth quacks, wind, salt spray or dust. And most utilities do cut trees despite local opposition.

What is being taken off the table as a stratigy is the ability to break the grid apart so solar flares can be handled. The solutions will surely be more costly, but it allows wind farms to keep selling power.

The EMP issue has not been studied enough so that solutions can be proposed. So utilities don't have purchasable solutions, and have been thrown into a political issue as a whipping boy. Comments like utilities are not doing enough, while true, are not going to deliver the intended result that the public is looking for. It's a red hearing for re-elect me and I will fix this (when they can't at this time).

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Actually, if you think about it, the ability of the grid to withstand a deliberate EMP event is unimportant. Such an event would quickly be followed by an exchange of missiles with multi-megaton warheads. Missing your favorite TV reality show because of a power outage would very low on the priority list while real-life reality would be on top.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

==> Such an event would quickly be followed by an exchange of missiles with multi-megaton warheads.
You don't know that.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

...and neither do you. If we are going to ask a nanny state requirement, such as EMP protection at no cost, then why not ask for a $90B "Star Wars" shield to protect us from cataclysmic meteor strike. Funny how some people will take on breth to complain about nanny state and high regulatory cost, then in the nexyt breath take th nanny state to task for not funding, with no tax or regultory oversight, a dim scenario of gloom and doom. Souinds like something Newt would think up to ask for mo' money to be the emperor of the moon.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

==> ...and neither do you
Nor am I claiming to.

==> If we are going to ask a nanny state requirement,
I'm not asking.

==> then in the nexyt breath take th nanny state to task for not funding,
I'm not doing that either. The less involved the government, the better the government.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
Dr. URGROSS
==> $90B "Star Wars" shield to protect us from cataclysmic meteor strike

I believe the "Star Wars" shield was to protect the country from ballistic missiles.
I had worked on a POP Hit-to-Kill program back in the 1980s... The proof-of-principal (POP)
actually worked in a national lab. I've retired since then but there's still secret
work going on at the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense
Command up there, over there or down there depending on your perspective in Huntsville, AL.

Looks like this thread is heading into different directions. Have Fun... pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I think the true purpose of Star Wars was to sucessfully bring down the Soviet Union, as they could not afford to counter the measure.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
-Dalai Lama XIV

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

Other than EMP, We are doing a good job, but we can do better. At the utility level we don't see much from federal funding, that's more of an REA thing.

What would be helpful is restoration equipment and requirments, to better handle larger regenal events such as huricanes and such. But as excess equipment is not allowed to be (generally) put into the rate base, many utilities don't purchase them. The problem is many of the regulators don't understand how to make a utility work, other than the accounting side.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

The EMP event would probably be best addressed by a NERC CIP ( critical infrastructure plant) requirement that those generators that supply power to nearby defense users or nuclear plants have their transformers modified accordingly.

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad "

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I'm wondering how you manage a $500 electric bill, much less have one on a regular basis.

Even when we had that string of 100+ degree days all month, the bill for my house was less than $300. I leave several computers running all the time, wife and kid are home most of the day with the lights on, radio, tv, etc. Not a lot of tree shade on the house (some in late afternoon.) Insulation is whatever the contractor put in when it was built 20 years ago. Some solar screens, and I did do some gap caulking.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

EWH, you are correct. I'm not sure that Star Wars was technically feasible or practicable at the time, but it introduced a new level to compete-or-die that the Soviets simply could not fund.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

(OP)
==> Haven't hit $500 yet...

This old house I own needs a serious work over in the areas of insulation, weather stripping, needs Thermopanes, old dirty ducts, etc.
In addition to that the washing machine and dryer are running all the time with the mother-in-law and wife competing with each other.
The $500 bill only happened twice this past winter and it was the first time I've seen them that high. It actually gets pretty cold
in north Florida. The bill usually is between $300 and $400. I'll be interested what this summer's heat will bring. Managing the bills
on a fix income is a balancing act for retired folks... nothing comes down it's this or that that is going up. But not to worry, I am
now joining the Obama nanny state and living off the hard working tax payers. Seems OK to me since I retired after 40+ years in the
rat race. Enough said...
pipe

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

So if the goverment can't secure the border, how can we expect the power grid to be secure?

Affordable energy is a more relistic goal, or even stable energy (which it is so far). Take your pick, you may not be able to achieve them all.

Just look, and we see the desire to bring more people to this country, and lower our consumption of some fuels. What has to happen for this to happen?
Smart grid, or the ability to cut you off if the factory down the street needs more energy. Investment in new energy sources, or assets that aren't already paid for.
Energy storage to be able to use more unschedulable energy (with large storage losses).

What we aren't doing is nucular energy, or coal power, or building new refineries. So what will this add up to? More profits for alternitive energy, and higher energy bills in your mail boxes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pushing for anything except relistic balance in an energy market.

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

We're certainly re-opening mothballed refineries and otherwise increasing capacity...

"Companies will add 500,000 to 830,000 barrels a day of crude and condensate processing capacity to handle more light oil over the next five years"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-31/teapots-b...

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I believe it to be enviromental regulation, not that having some regulation is bad, but in some cases it goes too far.
It is cheeper for a company to keep hold of a contimated site, than to midigate it. And with ramping enviromental regulations, few companies want to open new sites.

We should get this right, but any time you handle a large amount of anything, you will spill some. Things that may not be bad in small amounts, can be very bad in large amounts. Oil, coal, sewage sludge, nitrates from meat processing are examples where a little is not a problem, but a large amount over time is a problem.

So there is little desire to open new sites for coal, nucular, refiniries, ect. where additional capacity cam be added.

I still go back to the wind farms, as what will happen when these things become too costly to keep running? Will they be scraped, or abandoned?

RE: Securing the National Grid(s)

I have to say that I would be a lot less concerned about long-term hazards on my land with a wind farm than "mountaintop removal" style coal mining.

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