Countermeasures can be taken to protect critical grid infrastructure from extensive damage. Other countermeasures can significantly shorten the duration of a city-wide blackout.
1. Protect the transmission Grid Command and Control System from Cyber Attack
- Cyber, internet based, threats to the high voltage power grid are easily eliminated by using secure communications channels already in place and in use
- Utilities use the internet as a convenient way to monitor and control critical grid infrastructure then spend $Billions on cybersecurity protecting the infrastructure from cyber attackers
- There is no requirement to use the internet for command and control communication of the transmission grid
- Fiber optic cables are 100% secure from Cyber attacks and interconnect every critical infrastructure substation. These optical cables should be used as the primary communication channel for the grid command and control system. Power line carrier which uses the power lines to transmit data can also be used. Power line carrier is almost as secure and reliable as fiber optic cable.
- There are 2 shield wires strung on the top cross arm of each transmission tower above the power cables on every critical infrastructure transmission line. The shield wires are used to protect the power lines from a lightening strike. The shied wires each contain in their center multiple optical cables which have virtually unlimited bandwidth for communications between substations.
2. Improve the Physical Protection of critical grid infrastructure
Critical grid infrastructure transformers
- Transformers (and generators at a power plant) can be destroyed by repeated, rapid (every few seconds) energization and deenergization. This can be prevented by blocking further operations of the circuit breakers that connect transformers to the grid after the number of circuit breaker operations that may be part of a intentional protective relaying scheme to clear a temporary faults have accorded . Reprograming the computer controlled relay to limit each circuit breaker successive operation would take a few minutes.
- Without detailed information on how the transmission system is designed and operated a terrorist Cyber Attacker will not know which circuit breakers need to be operated, opened and closed, repeatedly every few seconds, to damage critical transformers and power plant generators. To safeguard this critical data store the grid design and operating data on a secure computer isolated from the internet.
- Enclosing entire critical infrastructure substations in high concrete walls as is now being done is counter productive and will not protect the critical transformers from an aerial attack. The walls will identify to the terrorists which transformers and transmission lines they should target for maximum damage.
- reinforced enclosure around only the critical transformer. The enclosures should be capable of stopping high powered rifle projectiles up to 50 cal. The enclosure should protect the transformer and bushings from an aerial attack by drones, ultra light aircraft and private aircraft capable of carrying explosive devices and incendiary devices. Enclosing the transformers will require modifying the existing cooling accessories.
- RPG screens around the transformers to provide protection from RPG shaped charges
Critical High Voltage Transmission Lines
There is no practical way of protecting long, exposed transmission lines from a successful attack
- Surrounding critical infrastructure substations in high concrete walls as is bring do in parts of the country will only identify for the terrorist which transmission line to target.
- The best way to respond to an attack is by creating rapid response teams to quickly replace damaged insulators. Where possible Use helicopters for “live wire” repair crews
3. Shorten Power Restoration Time
- Preposition essential equipment needed to repair damaged critical grid infrastructure
- Inventory all essential equipment that can not be prepositioned and be able to move that equipment to where it is needed quickly
4. Upgrade the Grid Design
There are two design changes that will make the cities much less vulnerable to devastating extended power outages.
- Change the transmission grid to a high voltage network similar to the power distribution networks in large cities. This will make the operators of the high voltage network able to reroute power around destroyed critical assets and continue to supply power to much more of the load than is currently possible.
- Replace remote large based loaded generation plants with multiple local small distributed generation plants and even smaller microgrids
- Building more long, unprotected transmission lines to the target cities from remote wind farms, solar generating facilities, hydroelectric generating plants increases the vulnerability of these cities to blackouts. Use the money spent on these long distance transmission lines instead to upgrade the transmission local transmission grid currently supplying power to the target cities
- The vulnerability of the target cities is greatly increased by shutting down base load coal and nuclear generating plants located near the target cities .
- The current carrying capacities of the individual transmission lines making up the local transmission grid supplying power to the target cities needs to be increased significantly so that if multiple transmission lines are disabled the remaining transmission lines can supply enough power to prevent wide spread blackouts.
- The individual local transmission lines that make up the transmission grid for the target city should be interconnected so that sufficient power can be rerouted to prevent wide spread blackouts
- Power generating plants including large base loaded plants to small solar and wind distributed generation should be located within the target cities so that the critical transmission grid can be buried and thus protected from a terrorist attack
Unfortunately most of these countermeasures will not be implemented at all or implemented in a manner that they will be minimally effective. The reasons are not technical. The reasons are ideology, personal self-interest, and profits.
- Ideology-there are many people who believe what they had been repeatedly told that global warming is the number one threat to human survival. Global warming is man made because of the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore stop burning fossil fuels and produce electric power with green energy, solar and wind and humanity is saved. Man made global warming is a symptom of and a diversion from the real danger to human survival – out of control world population growth. Humans are becoming locust. Destroying the planet; forests, wildlife habitat, polluting lakes, rivers, oceans, all to house and feed the billions who are increasing many millions every month.
- Personal self-interest – people, particularly the East and West coast cities and surrounding urban areas, don’t want to have their valuable land used for power generation. They would much prefer to have vast wind and solar power generating facilities built (it makes them feel good they are saving the plant) in far away rural areas and imported to them over long high voltage transmission systems. The people on the coasts benefit in many ways from this arrangement. They pay lower energy costs compared to the expensive local base-loaded power plants they are forcing to be shut down. They also don’t pay to build the transmission systems. The rate payers in the rural areas pay through the Facilities Charges on their monthly bill the $ billions to build the high voltage transmission systems they don’t need or want.
- Profits– the federal government makes building and operating the long high voltage transmission systems to transmit green power from the rural areas to the cities very profitable (10.5% to over 14% return on investment) for Electric Utilities. So profitable too often the Utilities to maximize their profits build these transmission systems instead of making needed repairs and upgrades to the local state transmission and distribution systems. To make matters worse, too many state utility regulators, who could disapprove these transmission systems as unnecessary for the local electric energy users, the rate payers whose interests they are suppose to be protecting, are more interested in pleasing the Utility Management in the hopes of landing a very high paying job with these Utilities after they finished their appointments to the Public Utility Commissions.