Power grid and stations | Homeland Security Newswire

  • 2013 attack on Metcalf, California power grid substation committed by “an insider”: DHS

    A senior DHS official last Wednesday revealed that a 2013 sniper attack on a Metcalf, California energy grid substation – which the top U.S. electrical utility regulator has called “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” — may have been committed by someone on the inside. The attackers fired more than 100 rounds of .30-caliber rifle ammunition into the radiators of seventeen electricity transformers, which caused the radiators to leak thousands of gallons of oil, which made electronics overheat and shut down.

  • Grid Security Conference focuses on information sharing among stakeholders

    More than 300 industry and federal partners are participating in the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) annual grid security conference, or GridSecCon, in Philadelphia, which opened on Wednesday and ends today. The conference is focusing on key cyber and physical security issues and training for enhancing the security and resiliency of the North American bulk power system. Topics of panel discussions include upgrades to NERC’s E-ISAC, cyber and physical security technology options, the transition to Version 5 of NERC’s critical infrastructure protection standards; and expectations for NERC’s third grid security exercise, GridEx III, which takes place 18-19 November.

  • Protecting the U.S. power grid from cyberattacks

    In the first half of Fiscal Year 2015, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, responded to 108 cyber incidents impacting critical infrastructure in the United States. As in previous years, the energy sector led all others with the most reported incidents. Researchers from Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Engineering and Computing have teamed up with four other universities and a utility company to help safeguard the nation’s power utilities from cyberattacks.

  • U Warwick, U.K. National Grid expand £1.5 million partnership

    Last week the University of Warwick and the U.K. National Grid have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to extend the strategic alliance they have operated for last two years. To date that alliance has engaged in over £1.5 million worth of research and student scholarships in areas such as electricity transmission asset management, gas transmission, micro-tunneling, and cyber security.

  • Grid Game teaches students about electric grid complexity, resilience

    Outages caused by severe weather cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year. The hits come from lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, and damage to the electric grid. Engineers and teachers have developed a Grid Games — desktop simulation which allows players to keep load and generation in balance. “Red Team” participants can even mount financial and cyberattacks in real time, making the game even more interesting.

  • New facility will be center of research to make U.S. grid more robust, smarter

    The U.S. electric power grid is the most complex machine ever built. Transforming it from an early twentieth century machine to a twenty-first century engine for innovation is a demanding scientific and technical challenge. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has launched its new Systems Engineering Building (SEB), in which industry, academia, and leading scientists will conduct research which will change the future of the U.S. power grid. “The private sector and the government must work together to ensure that we can prevent and recover from grid disruptions, whether they come from cyberattack, physical attack, or severe weather that is brought on by climate change,” Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said at the building’s dedication.

  • DOE grant to make Sacramento, Calif. grid more resilient in emergencies

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) $600,000 to install smart-grid technologies which will make the SMUD grid more adaptable to adversity. The Grid Resilience Grant helps fund half of SMUD’s $1.2 million Resilient Grid Initiative which is designed to make SMUD’s distribution system more adaptable to major disasters and reduce the effects of climate change through the installation and operation of high-voltage (69 kilovolt) switches and the implementation and operation of voltage optimization measures. These measures will increase the carrying capacity of the system during major natural disasters and other emergencies.

  • Forecasting tool reduces costly power grid errors

    Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. Now, a new forecasting tool that delivers up to a 50 percent increase in accuracy and the potential to save millions in wasted energy costs has been developed by researchers.

  • Integrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid

    “Electrical grids can work if, and only if, the amount of electricity inserted into the grid from power plants is matched, second by second, to the amount of electricity extracted from the grid by consumers.” If this does not happen there are black-outs. In order to maintain this equilibrium we must focus on two things: demand and supply of electricity into the grid. New research into sustainable energy systems focuses on integrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid — a topic high on the agenda for scholars, industry, and policy makers.

  • Senior federal officials join initiative to help secure power supply to healthcare facilities during disasters

    Powered for Patients, a not-for-profit public private partnership established after Hurricane Sandy to help safeguard backup power and expedite power restoration for critical healthcare facilities, has added two former senior federal officials to serve as advisors. Initial funding for Powered for Patients was provided in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) through ASPR’s cooperative agreement with Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul N. Stockton and former HHS Director of the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations Kevin Yeskey join Powered for Patients.

  • Abu Dhabi’s power system to be used for critical infrastructure cybersecurity study

    Abu Dhabi, UAE-based Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and MIT will use Abu Dhabi’s power system as a case study for developing a knowledge map of the power system and its cybersecurity shortcomings. The project is due to run for two years. At the end of this two year period, the collaborating institutions hope that data from the analysis of Abu Dhabi’s power system could be compared against data from the projects running concurrently in New York and Singapore to develop a comprehensive knowledge map, capable of being applied to critical infrastructure worldwide.

  • Smart grid concept advanced by distributed technique for power “scheduling”

    Currently, power infrastructure uses a centralized scheduling approach to forecast and coordinate the energy produced at the thousands of large power plants around the country. Researchers have developed a new technique for “scheduling” energy in electric grids that moves away from centralized management by tapping into the distributed computing power of energy devices. The approach advances the smart grid concept by coordinating the energy being produced and stored by both conventional and renewable sources.

  • Can the power grid survive a cyberattack?

    It is very hard to overstate how important the U.S. power grid is to American society and its economy. Every critical infrastructure, from communications to water, is built on it and every important business function from banking to milking cows is completely dependent on it. And the dependence on the grid continues to grow as more machines, including equipment on the power grid, get connected to the Internet. The grid’s vulnerability to nature and physical damage by man, including a sniper attack in a California substation in 2013, has been repeatedly demonstrated. But it is the threat of cyberattack that keeps many of the most serious people up at night, including the U.S. Department of Defense. In a 2012 report, the National Academy of Sciences called for more research to make the grid more resilient to attack and for utilities to modernize their systems to make them safer. Indeed, as society becomes increasingly reliant on the power grid and an array of devices are connected to the internet, security and protection must be a high priority.

  • Weak regulation of grid soundness limits efforts to improve system reliability

    Electricity systems in the United States are so haphazardly regulated for reliability, it is nearly impossible for customers to know their true risk of losing service in a major storm, a new analysis found. Though weather-related outages have risen over the last decade, and research shows extreme weather events will occur with more intensity and frequency in the future, power providers do not necessarily have to report storm-related outages, leaving customers with an incomplete picture of the system’s reliability and potentially limiting efforts to improve system reliability, the researchers concluded.

  • Drought, heat to affect U.S. West's power grid

    Expected increases in extreme heat and drought will bring changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity, scientists say. These changing conditions could significantly constrain the energy generation capacity of power plants — unless steps are taken to upgrade systems and technologies to withstand the effects of a generally hotter and drier climate. Power providers should invest in more resilient renewable energy sources and consider local climate constraints when selecting sites for new generation facilities, the researchers say.