• Russia planted sabotage-enabling malware in U.S. energy grid, other critical infrastructure

    Russia has not only attacked the infrastructure of American democracy: The U.S. government now says that Russia has engaged in a pervasive, wide-ranging cyber-assault on U.S. energy grid and other key components of the U.S. critical infrastructure. These sustained attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure – along with the Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Russian-launched NoPetya malware — were the reasons the administration on Thursday imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia.

  • Combining old and new to create a novel power grid cybersecurity tool

    An innovative R&D project that combines cybersecurity, machine learning algorithms and commercially available power system sensor technology to better protect the electric power grid has sparked interest from U.S. utilities, power companies and government officials. Creating innovative tools and technologies to reduce the risk that energy delivery might be disrupted by a cyber incident is vital to making the nation’s electric power grid resilient to cyber threats.

  • Microgrids have a large impact

    As many as 1.3 billion people lack access to electrical power. Engineers make strides in technologies that promise to make electrical power more accessible almost anywhere on the planet. One of his solutions is microgrids, which provide independent power generation and storage systems capable of operating as mobile or standalone systems or as a supplemental part of larger conventional power grids.

  • Hacker-resistant power plant software in a successful Hawaii tryout

    Johns Hopkins computer security experts recently traveled to Hawaii to see how well their hacker-resistant software would operate within a working but currently offline Honolulu power plant. The successful resilience testing, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, was triggered in part by growing concerns about the vulnerability of electric power grids after two high-profile cyber-attacks by Russian government hackers turned out the lights in parts of Ukraine during the past two years. Neither outage in Kiev was long or extensive enough to cause serious harm or panic. Yet the attacks served as a wake-up call, putting a spotlight on power grid security in the United States and elsewhere.

  • Drawing industry attention to ensuring grid reliability

    Grid reliability depends on controlling the power system frequency so that it remains within pre-established, safe operating bounds. Reliability is threatened when a large electric generator or generators experiences a problem and automatically disconnects from the power system; the loss of generation causes an immediate decline in power system frequency. If the remaining, still-connected generators do not respond to rapidly arrest the decline in frequency, power system frequency may decline below established, safe operating bounds and trigger automatic, emergency load shedding to avoid a cascading blackout. A report for FERC details six recommendations to reduce likelihood of blackouts.

  • Innovative smart grid technology solves decades-old problematic power grid phenomenon

    Picture a teeter-totter gently rocking back and forth, one side going up while the other goes down. When electricity travels long distances, it starts to behave in a similar fashion: the standard frequency of 60 cycles per second increases on the utility side of the transmission line while the frequency on the customer side decreases, switching back and forth every second or two. This phenomenon — called inter-area oscillations — can be a problem on hot summer days when the demand for power is high. Sandia National Laboratories and partners have demonstrated a control system that smooths out these oscillations using new smart grid technology. Sandia’s controls use real-time data to reduce inter-area oscillations on western grid.

  • Self-healing microgrids to help keep isolated Cordova, Alaska, cope with disasters, cyberattacks

    Cordova, Alaska, is in a far-flung nook of Prince William Sound. There are no roads connecting Cordova with the rest of the world. The only way to get there is by plane or boat. The city’s electrical grid is also isolated; there’s no physical connection to the outside world. The situation is compounded by harsh weather and a mix of hydroelectric, diesel and solar power generation, with a seasonal consumer demand that changes significantly throughout the year. In the event of a major natural disaster, such as the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, Cordova might be completely cut off. A system of microgrids would enhance grid resilience by maintaining and restoring power after a catastrophic event or a cyberattack.

  • Alaskan microgrids offer energy resilience, independence

    The electrical grid in the contiguous United States is a behemoth of interconnected systems. If one section fails or is sabotaged, millions of citizens could be without power. Remote villages in Alaska provide an example of how safeguards could build resilience into a larger electrical grid. These communities rely on microgrids — small, local power stations that operate autonomously.

  • MIT conference seeks solutions for reconstruction in devastated Caribbean

    This fall’s record-breaking hurricanes Maria and Irma left a swath of devastation across the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Granada, Dominica, and others. Photos of severely damaged or demolished houses, and statistics about the scale of the destruction and the slow pace of recovery efforts, reveal a tragic level of suffering in an already economically ravaged region. Two-day workshop featuring island leaders explores ways to rebuilt better, more resilient infrastructure.

  • House passes important cybersecurity legislation

    Yesterday (Monday) the House unanimously passed H.R. 3359, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017. This important legislation will streamline the current structure of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and re-designate it as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) to more effectively execute cybersecurity and critical infrastructure related authorities.

  • Power grid test bed helps national grid resilience

    Essential services like hospitals and water treatment depend on energy distribution to ensure reliable and continuous operations. As the power grid evolves, becoming more connected and responsive, those new, smart devices can introduce greater cyber vulnerabilities. To address this challenge, the power grid test bed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory has been transitioned to a more adaptive architecture.

  • Power grid links vulnerable to cascading failures

    In North America, a small set of vulnerable patches within large power grid networks is disproportionately responsible for costly cascading power failures, according to a new study. These vulnerable components, the authors say, are typically geographically close and are often located near densely populated areas.

  • Improving sensor accuracy to prevent overload of the electrical grid

    Electrical physicists from Czech Technical University have provided additional evidence that new current sensors introduce errors when assessing current through iron conductors. It’s crucial to correct this flaw in the new sensors so that operators of the electrical grid can correctly respond to threats to the system. The researchers show how a difference in a conductor’s magnetic permeability, the degree of material’s magnetization response in a magnetic field, affects the precision of new sensors.

  • New Zealand energy firm invests $10 million in Iron Dome maker

    New Zealand-based energy and communications infrastructure provider Vector invested $10 million in the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome. Some of the technologies that power Israel’s remarkable protection against projectiles will be used by Vector as part of its IoT (Internet of Things) approach to optimizing management and control services.

  • Israeli software gives New York power plants “Iron Dome” protection against failures

    An Israeli company that developed the software for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system is working with the New York Power Authority to prevent unexpected shutdowns. New York State Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped-Storage Power Plant, and a 500 MW plant in Queens now have software based on the software that runs Iron Dome.