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Guest Post: US Power Grid Vulnerable To Just About Everything

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Jen Alic of OilPrice.com,

As Washington hunts ill-defined al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East and Africa, and concerns itself with Iran’s eventual nuclear potential, it has a much more pressing problem at home: Its energy grid is vulnerable to anyone with basic weapons and know-how.

Forget about cyber warfare and highly organized terrorist attacks, a lack of basic physical security on the US power grid means that anyone with a gun—like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance--could do serious damage.

For the past two months, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been tasked with creating a security strategy for the electric grid and hydrocarbon facilities through its newly created Office of Energy Infrastructure Security. So far, it’s not good news.

“There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid,” warns FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. This, he says, “is an equal if not greater issue” than cyber security. 

FERC’s gloom-and-doom risk assessment comes on the heels of the recent declassification of a 2007 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences on 14 November warned that a terrorist attack on the US power grid could wreak more damage than Hurricane Sandy. It could cause massive blackouts for weeks or months at a time. But this would only be the beginning, the Academy warns, spelling out an “end of days” scenario in which blackouts lead to widespread fear, panic and instability.

What they are hinting at is revolution—and it wouldn’t take much.

So what is being done to mitigate risk? According to FERC, utility companies aren’t doing enough. Unfortunately, FERC does not have the power to order utilities to act in the name of protecting the country’s energy infrastructure. Security is expensive, and more than 90% of the country’s grid is privately owned and regulated by state governments. Private utilities are not likely to feel responsible for footing the bill for security, and states may not be able to afford it. 

One key problem is theoretically a simple one to resolve: a lack of spare parts. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the grid is particularly vulnerable because it is spread out across hundreds of miles with key equipment not sufficiently guarded or antiquated and unable to prevent outages from cascading.

We are talking about some 170,000 miles of voltage transmission line miles fed by 2,100 high-voltage transformers delivering power to 125 million households.

"We could easily be without power across a multistate region for many weeks or months, because we don't have many spare transformers,” according to the Academy.

High-voltage transformers are vulnerable both from within and from outside the substations in which they are housed. Complicating matters, these transformers are huge and difficult to remove. They are also difficult to replace, as they are custom built primarily outside the US. So what is the solution? Perhaps, says the Academy, to design smaller portable transformers that could be used temporarily in an emergency situation.

Why was the Academy’s 2007 report only just declassified? Well, its authors were worried that it would be tantamount to providing terrorists with a detailed recipe for attacking and destabilizing America, or perhaps for starting a revolution.

The military at least is preparing to protect its own power supplies. Recently, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $7 million contract for research that demonstrates the integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colorado. This is the SPIDERS (Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security), and the Army hopes it will be the answer to more efficient and secure energy.

Back in the civilian world, however, things are moving rather slowly, and the focus remains on the sexier idea of an energy-crippling cyberattack.

Last week, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to pass a bill—the GRID Act--which would secure the grid against cyberattacks.

"As the widespread and, in some cases, still ongoing power outages from Superstorm Sandy have shown us, our electric grid is too fragile and its disruption is too devastating for us to fail to act," Markey wrote. "Given this urgency, it is critical that the House act immediately in a bipartisan manner to ensure our electrical infrastructure is secure."

This bill was passed by the House, but has failed to gain any traction in the Senate. 

FERC, of course, is all for the bill, which would give it the authority to issue orders and regulations to boost the security of the electric grid's computer systems from a cyberattack. But it’s only a small piece of the security puzzle, and FERC remains concerned that authorities are overlooking the myriad simpler threats to the electricity grid. These don’t make for the easy headlines, especially since they are not necessarily foreign in nature.

 

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Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:42 | 3024345 insanelysane
insanelysane's picture

I think the Sandy experiment showed that Americans can get along quite nicely without the grid for weeks on end. </sarc>

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:48 | 3024360 clymer
clymer's picture

"like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance--could do serious damage.."

What a bullshit slight against Michigan Militia types.

this is as far in the article that I needed to go

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:54 | 3024402 TahoeBilly2012
TahoeBilly2012's picture

"Mr. Smith...lets's be reasonable here...in 2012 did you, or did you not, use the UP ARROW button on the website zerohedge.com, on a post that read..."

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:02 | 3024438 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

You'll have to pry my cold dead finger from my mouse.

<Star Mouse Wars.>

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:08 | 3024460 ACP
ACP's picture

Must be a politically moderate writer, because he forgot to say, "Racist, bigoted, misogynistic, redneck, angry, hateful, Tea-Party gun nut," which, I believe is the usual prologue for people who even think about disagreeing with the present Marxist "Forward" movement.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:11 | 3024479 The Alarmist
The Alarmist's picture

Nowadays it is enough to simply say Tea Party ... the rest are understood.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:03 | 3024614 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

For those with a serious interest in the future, Liddy's book Fight Back, is a virtual road map for bringing down the power grid, and shutting down transport.  I'm surprised it hasn't been banned by big brother.  If you haven't completed your list for Santa...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:05 | 3024684 BKbroiler
BKbroiler's picture

FIGHT THE POWER... oh wait, please don't. 

If you haven't been paying attention, storms are getting pretty f'n fierce these last few years.  Anyone who doesn't own a generator by now is a fool.  Get an electric one you can recharge with solar panels and you don't even have to worry about gas.  The basics are simple:

ENERGY - Generator and Fuel

WATER - Berkey Filters, Chlorine Dioxide Tabs

FOOD - Freeze Dried Food, PB, Rice

PROTECTION - large caliber gun and ammo

Got those 4 straigthened away for less than 5K and fared just fine through Sandy.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:14 | 3024736 knukles
knukles's picture

Another "Only Big Brother Can Save You from This Shit" meme

Shiver and cringe, hide beneath the covers peasants, glady bestow upon the Sheriff's takes more of the precious Treasure to Fund the Inane and Horriblius Horseshit.

Please, just everybody go fuck themselves.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 19:06 | 3025126 prains
prains's picture

I thought Enron proved the power grid was inviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiincible,(pinky finger in corner of mouth)

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 20:17 | 3025503 nmewn
nmewn's picture

lol...and I could have sworn they just "spent" 870 Beeeeeliyon dollars.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:09 | 3024476 The Alarmist
The Alarmist's picture

They'll just crank up the juice to the electrodes on your testicles enough to make you want to let go ... then again, that might bring down our very fragile grid.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:14 | 3024496 Antifaschistische
Antifaschistische's picture

Dear POTUS,

I have the answer to unemployement in America.   Place one of your civilian guardsmen/women at the base of every single power pole in the US.

If not...then accept your vulnerability to any man with one of these...http://www.stihlusa.com/products/cut-off-machines/

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:05 | 3024694 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Wouldn't be my first choice, Sparky;)

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 19:02 | 3025337 willwork4food
willwork4food's picture

Stihl Tools-still made right her in America!!! VB, VA baby!

(When loads of dynamite are not an option)

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:28 | 3024546 The Gooch
The Gooch's picture

No Uncle Janet!

It was my cousin- THE GOOCH!

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:56 | 3024407 1fortheroad
1fortheroad's picture

I agree

 

The Idahoe militia is much more adept

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:56 | 3024412 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Fractally the Problems and solutions facing are all the same.

Centralization/Consolidation/Super-sizing = Weak, vulnerable, inefficient.

Distributed (generation/manufacturing/Everything) = Resilient/Redundant/Failsafe/Empowering

Smaller is better, all around.

Especially true for the power question.

Time to change the paridigm before the paradigm collapses on us.

ori

http://squareandc.net

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:58 | 3024424 john39
john39's picture

the oligarchy controlling the world doesn't really care about the long term well being of the masses.... infrastructure in the U.S. is falling apart, with huge amounts of deferred maintenance common.  wealth is being stolen, not powed back into productive use...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:57 | 3024415 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

I made it one more paragraph before quitting in disgust, as it doesn't take a genius to understand you cannot secure a complex, centralized grid. Only via decentralization can it be made secure, as it would take far too many resources to effectively shut down the whole country.

Of course, given that the mafia runs the world, those single points of failure are way to valuable for control purposes to ever consider getting rid of them.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:15 | 3025000 midtowng
midtowng's picture

Living here in the Dominican Republic, we get used to blackouts every single day (not to mention a complete lack of natural gas pipes).

People get by. In fact, I forget why people get so upset by it.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:57 | 3024418 Poetic injustice
Poetic injustice's picture

More likely stray bullets from NY police will take down state powergrid.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:01 | 3024437 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

White people are all about destroying civilisation, because, you know, they didn't build that.   They're angry at their lack of accomplishment.   Lazy.   Takers.   And we know from TV and hollywood scripts that at the end of the plot, it is always them and not the darkies behind the terrorism.    And life imitates art or something, so there's smoke and so surely fire.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:18 | 3024514 formadesika3
formadesika3's picture

I didn't read the article. I have found that it's much more time-efficient to read the comments first.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:35 | 3024568 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Indeed. Sometimes it depends on the article, but you are spot on. An example of the power of distributed dissemination of information vs. the weakness of central editorializing.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:21 | 3024521 Dan Conway
Dan Conway's picture

This government is powerless to stop anything like what this idiot writer is blabbering.  This is all BS to have armed soldiers on the streets.  If they were more concerned about this stuff they might do some pretty basic stuff.  But here in the mid-atlantic all you need is a little wind and precipitation and voila no power for days.  I worry more about the government banning coal and what that will do to the electric grid. 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:13 | 3024963 ArrestBobRubin
ArrestBobRubin's picture

Yeah, musta been a typo... it should have read "like desperate Meshuggah Mossad types, for instance, could launch yet ANOTHER false flag attack in the USA, this time against the power grid, and then have their owned congress critters blame it on Iran"

There, it's fixed now...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:51 | 3024381 zendome
zendome's picture

LOL - we'd beg to differ on that "quite nicely" bit.  Felt like a total electricity junkie, hunting the streets looking for a fix!

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:55 | 3024404 Silver Bug
Silver Bug's picture

All it would take is one significant solar flare and the whole thing would be wiped out for years.

 

http://schiffblog.blogspot.ca/

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:21 | 3024524 petolo
petolo's picture

Chinese candles, kerosene and Eskimo parkas.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:45 | 3024609 CH1
CH1's picture

Or just a generator.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:49 | 3025124 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

...provided you have a store or, or access to, a sustained fuel supply.  That's the ugly bottleneck that folks are going to suffer.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:25 | 3024536 Zaydac
Zaydac's picture

A few years ago some imbeciles chucked a few old tyres over the fence on to the trips of a substation in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, England. The substation caught fire, and was destroyed. An entire industrial estate and several hundred houses lost electricity supply. It took a lot of large mobile generators to restore power. How long did it take to rebuild the substation and get the mains back on? A month. A whole month! That's one substation. In Gloucester in 2007 floods nearly took out the main regional switching station. Fortunately the emergency services had enough temporary flood barriers to hold the waters back but it was touch-and-go and the police were warning a million or more people that all the major residential areas of the county would be uninhabitable within a week if the station was lost. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we need to build a more distributed power grid so that the loss of individual elements does not bring us down. Everything depends on electricity, including drinking water and sewage disposal. Take those out and we're in serious trouble. (But Zaydac will be OK with her rainwater harvesting, stock of treatment tablets, gravity-fed septic tank drainage, bloody great generator with changeover switch on the main board, and a decent stock of red diesel).

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:58 | 3025323 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

Small Heath - why am I not surprised (however I'm hardly in a position to criticise, being an ex-Sparkbrook resident!!)

These would have been pretty small components too, so reasonably easy to source.

Replacement of 400kV Supergrid transformers / switches is in an entirely different league of difficulty!!

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:59 | 3025326 holdingontomypants
holdingontomypants's picture

In the Phoeniz Arizona area SRP who is the largest electric provider in our state has cheesy unarmed contract security guards sitting at electrical substations in their personal vehicals. To get this juicy contract only requires being the lowest of lowball bidders and the ability to persuade a door greeter from wal-mart to take the job.

At least Tucson Electric was serious about their security at a remote electrical substation in the mountains when they hired our armed guards and our guards carry AR-15's in addition to their sidearm. Mainly we just kepted dam illegals and drug smugglers away so the idiots didn't electrocute themselves and then a family member suing them afterwards.

I laugh everyday when I drive home and pass an remote electrical substation that is owned by SRP and see the dude chilled out in a lawn chair and glasses. I know I piss him off as I blow my horn at him everyday to make sure he is awake and if not, I wake him up. I should bill his company for the supervision I give each day. So far I haven't gotten the bird from him but maybe he is to stupid to know why I blow the horn.

Really, what is this guy going to do to stop a threat at the station he is watching? Throw his radio at the guy..lol..assuming his radio even works. 

Security is a joke for most of our high value infrastructure and even our military bases. When I was in the military it would have been so easy to cause serious damage to fighter aircraft as it was so poorly watched and I bet it still is. You got some E-3 or below pulling flightline watch and nobody watching him. He would stroll out of the shack once every couple of hours and take a stroll around 20-30 aircraft, unarmed of course. Then go back in a take a nap because he had already worked all day and now had a 4-8 hour watch. If I was a bad guy midnight to 4AM is prime.

Being a security company owner for the last 8 years I have seen who and what type of companies are serious about their security and who is just looking for window dressing. 95% are looking to just risk transfer as cheaply as possible and save money on their liability policy by being able to claim they have security.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 21:08 | 3025605 sink critically
sink critically's picture

I'm sure you do an important job for your clients, but doesn't it seem strange that a security company owner would yak on an on about the details of their business. Not hating, just letting you know the irony isn't lost on me.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:44 | 3024346 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Reap what you sow...

What else would you expect from a profit driven neglect of infrastructure...

Edit: Carrington Event bitchez!

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:44 | 3024356 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

You mean like not-for-profit LIPA???

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:50 | 3024382 SilverIsKing
SilverIsKing's picture

Don't pick on LIPA.  Let me pick on those dick suckers.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:54 | 3024405 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

OK.  Let me spell it out more clearly.  Flaky the lib said that the problem was "profit-driven neglect of infrastructure".  The poster-child of neglected infrastructure subsequent to Sandy is LIPA, which is a not-for-profit entity.  So LIPA's neglect really wasn't profit driven, right?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:58 | 3024421 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

There is a lot more to the electrical grid than LIPA....

Nice strawman...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:29 | 3024548 SilverIsKing
SilverIsKing's picture

The issues surrounding LIPA may be partly due to neglect (not profit driven but could be funding driven) but I think there's a heavy dose of incompetence in there too.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:40 | 3024849 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

Flaky, don't go there.  I've got more knowledge of the electric grid and how it works than you and all your labrats combined.  I was just pointing out the flaw in your linkage between profit and neglected infrastructure.  That's all.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:58 | 3024932 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Well good for you....

You do agree that the grid has been neglected? 

http://www.quanta-technology.com/sites/default/files/doc-files/Aging_Infrastructures-12-01-13.pdf

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:23 | 3025025 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

I never challenged the issue of neglect.  I only pointed out the flaw in your "logic" that neglect was a function of profit-seeking. 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:35 | 3025267 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Neglect can be willful or from incompetence...

I would argue that a good chunk is willful and related to the bottom line....

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:57 | 3024416 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Even since the cancellation of Shoreham (if not before) the electric utility situation on L.I. has been an unmitigated shitshow...

I remember at BNL in the early 90's, that by firing up the AGS and then shutting it down that the BNL reaped a $250,000 "award for cutting demand during peak power demand...

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:12 | 3024988 whoopsing
whoopsing's picture

Yes, but we pay dearly for that shitshow

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:47 | 3024368 Hippocratic Oaf
Hippocratic Oaf's picture

Spot-on

This debacle is going to make all other issues trivial.

Our elec. infra. is and has been on life-support.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:02 | 3024441 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

LOL WUT?

I think you mean a political driven neglect of infrastructure. Nobody privately pursuing a profit would undermine their own business with intentional neglect. Thing is, "the grid" is a TBTF "public resource," so there is no rational reason to pay for upkeep when it can all be passed off to Uncle Sugar for "safe-keeping."

As always, Rent Seeking 101.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:43 | 3024352 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

Everything enabled by power is disabled when there's none.  That's the lesson that folks in the NY/NJ area should have just learned in spades.  The ability to survive without utility power will prove to be a dominant gene.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:49 | 3024374 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

I would argue that it is well nigh impossible in a highly urbanized environment....

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:51 | 3024385 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

 

 

...which is among a thousand reasons I don't reside there.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:44 | 3024354 Itch
Itch's picture

I fart and the lights go out, but im special.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:47 | 3024366 Itch
Itch's picture

Who said the calibre of ZH comments has went down a notch?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:52 | 3024389 Bastiat
Bastiat's picture

A red one for "has went."

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:09 | 3024471 XitSam
XitSam's picture

And a red one for you, he was proving his point.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:53 | 3024390 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

You probably just passed out...  try not to squeeze as hard next time

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:34 | 3024567 Pooper Popper
Pooper Popper's picture

Need a date?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:45 | 3024359 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Including the need for greed.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:46 | 3024364 Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs's picture

What happened to all that "infrastructure" spending?

And where are the Green Shoots?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:53 | 3024394 zendome
zendome's picture

Think it was Republicans that killed all that during their "anything to keep Obama from getting re-elected" pledge.  They couldn't even get that right.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:59 | 3024430 homonohumanus
homonohumanus's picture

I don't know by the look of it it seems that there was barely enough to do a hack job at fixing decaying highways.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:46 | 3024365 odatruf
odatruf's picture

First it was solar flares and now it is hand guns?

When will I read about the danger that kites pose to our power grid? If only Congress would set aside one billion dollars, we could build a network of sissor like devices that would clip their strings mid-flight.

 

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:00 | 3024434 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Don't forget birds, baseballs, frisbees, aliens (h/t K-man).  Honestly, the biggest concerns should be adequate brush clearing around power lines and the numbskulls who steal the copper grounding from the substations.

Not sure what the utility landscape is outside my locale, but thanks to deregulation it is not the 'electric company' that is responsible for transmission.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:03 | 3024681 odatruf
odatruf's picture

I want to blame the politicians for this.  I want to blame bankers and lawyers and the unions for this, too.  But honestly, it is the dumb as rocks Americans who read crap like this and then nod in agreement that something must be done to address the menace of people shooting at power lines.  Or solar flares.  And of course, think of the children.

Us. We are the enemy and there is no beating back the stupid.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:48 | 3024371 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Well, this looks like a good excuse for Homeland Security to start frisking grade schoolers for hidden snippets of malicious PLC code.

After all, they do have access to the Internet and computers just like they have access to airports and airplanes.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:49 | 3024373 Global Hunter
Global Hunter's picture

There's gotta be somebody in DC high up that's thinking "probably more cost effective to just take it down ourselves rather than upgrade it"

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:11 | 3024485 XitSam
XitSam's picture

Take it down or let it go down, then blame the terists. This is battlefield preparation.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:50 | 3024375 1fortheroad
1fortheroad's picture

We should invade more countries, that will fix it.

 

 

sarc/off

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:49 | 3024376 AC_Doctor
AC_Doctor's picture

Electricity is under rated.  Sandy caused absolutely no problems at all.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:52 | 3024387 alentia
alentia's picture

Sounds like a "Global Warming" for an army of scientists : More funding and job justification for Office of Energy Infrastructure Security

When new goverment department is created it always justifies its existance and growth.

What's next?

Department of Highway Security

Department of Bridges Security

Department of Food Security (imagine terrorist access Coca-Cola distribution and poison the water)

Department of Toilet Seat Security

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:43 | 3024599 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

IEEE looking for followup slices of the fed pie after solar and Volts, this is just what's next for them.  Surprised Grainger Morgan isn't all over this.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:53 | 3024392 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Listen. In the places I come from two dozen people with chainsaws could put a town in the dark in less then 10 minutes, and it would take a week to fix the damage. And they could turn around and do it again a week after that. Maybe that wouldn't work in New York, but so what? If you could take out the rural countryside with chainsaws then the urban core would become a nightmare in short order.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:00 | 3024674 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

True dat.  It's not rocket science.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:53 | 3025311 NaN
NaN's picture

On Sept. 12, 2001, I was hoping people would realize there is no way for the US to plug all the vulnerabilities and then invincibly go on the rampage.  Instead, the bait was taken hook, line, and sinker, down the war-bankruptcy path.  Not clever.

Infrastructure vulnerabilities are only protected by obscurity. We are just one diabolical thought away from another undesirable incident.  Because obscurity is not enough, the next step is to data-mine everything/everyone and suffer the false-positives/mis-use.  

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:54 | 3024395 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Yeah if you walk around you can see easily what could be taken out by about anybody without getting caught that could cut electricity to millions.

Now let's say Russia/China/Iran infiltrates trained TEAMS of people across any country, they can take down the entire grid within an hour easy.

What needs to be done is protect the grid against EMP and DECENTRALIZE IT.

And this..

http://www.tgdaily.com/security-brief/67629-pentagon-eyes-advanced-emp-g...

Pentagon eyes advanced EMP grenades

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/12/electropulse_grenades/

Colonel: US Army has working electropulse grenades
Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:54 | 3024397 semperfi
semperfi's picture

BFD - so how long would it be down for?  A day or two before most restored?  A week for all?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:54 | 3024399 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

"means that anyone with a gun—like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance-- could do serious damage."

Wait, stop, hault.  The WHAT types??

All the enemies we have running around the globe and Michigan Militia types get called on the carpet as the example?  Really?

Sorry, but I don't recall the Michigan Militia going around shooting up substations and cell towers.  Perhaps I missed the story.  Whole article sniffs wrong from there out.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:59 | 3024429 clymer
clymer's picture

FBI Entrapment Is Inventing 'Terrorists'

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:00 | 3024408 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

 

"As Washington hunts ill-defined al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East and Africa"

Didn't you know al-Qaeda is now our ally? We have always been at war with Eastasia.

 

"like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance--could do serious damage"

I'd be disgruntled too if the FBI tried to set me up as a terrorist group only for the case to be dropped silently later while nobody was paying attention. 

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:44 | 3024603 RallyRoundTheFamily
RallyRoundTheFamily's picture

Also see Hutaree, same story different chapter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutaree

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:56 | 3024413 Wynn
Wynn's picture

Tesla had a plan for free energy, what happened to that?

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:10 | 3024474 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

It wasn't free energy, it was energy transmission without wires. There was still a generator, there just wasn't a grid. So maybe it was free as in "free beer". But I'm pretty sure someone could find a way to meter it even without wires.

He was using high-frequency radio waves to transmit power. You could pull it out of the sky with an antenna and get electricity. Of course today we use that same method to cook our food -- called a microwave oven -- so I'm not sure how serious you can take all this.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:25 | 3024539 SoNH80
SoNH80's picture

True.  But the word is, that he had built an electric car that could run on the same wirelessly-transmitted energy, long distances, with no batteries, and speeds of up to 90 mph.  Obviously not a plus for Standard Oil aka the Rockefeller Co.

On the other side of the coin, having that much radio energy flying around might not be the best thing for humans and other living things.  Hey, cell phone radio energy seems to cause brain tumors... I can imagine having your Suburban powered by radio waves might be a quick road to lymphoma for the whole family.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:55 | 3024914 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Yeah. And the way we Americans adopt new technology without much discussion or review -- thinking here, the Internet and cable TV -- we'd have 10 million Tesla cars on the road covering every major market before we even knew that everyone man, woman and child within 500 miles of a transmission tower was going to die a horrible, lingering death.

As it happened we do have Tesla cars. Made by Tesla Motors next town over. And they do catch fire and maybe kill people, don't know. But at least at that point it was a personal decision. Everyone can choose how they want to die, is what I think.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:58 | 3024419 Vashta Nerada
Vashta Nerada's picture

If the government would just concentrate everyone into camps near existing urban areas, then there would be no need for an expansive power grid.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:46 | 3024617 RallyRoundTheFamily
RallyRoundTheFamily's picture

And that is sustainable...sounds great.  fuck you

Sat, 12/01/2012 - 05:02 | 3026105 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Everyone will be begging for the camps if the power grid fails, good thing the US government wisely prepared for such an emergency.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:58 | 3024426 realtick
realtick's picture

This Is What A Properly Analyzed Silver Chart Looks Like http://chartistfriendfrompittsburgh.blogspot.com/2012/11/this-is-what-pr...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:59 | 3024427 Sextus Empiricus
Sextus Empiricus's picture

But...But... Al-Qaeda is going to take over the US if we don't do something quick!

:/

10 years later...

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:01 | 3024440 Tsar Pointless
Tsar Pointless's picture

I have seen the future.

It's a cross between NBC's "Revolution" and AMC's "The Walking Dead".

With a little bit of "The Day After Tomorrow" thrown in for good measure.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:12 | 3024488 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Well duh of course the day after tomorrow is in the futue.   /s

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:03 | 3024444 Rustysilver
Rustysilver's picture

In New Haven, CT., Mr Gonzalez (age 24) tried to cut wires at an electrical substation. 3rd degree burns. 3300 out of power. No gun in sight.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:07 | 3024463 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Shame he wasn't Westinghoused.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:17 | 3024509 P.T.Bull
P.T.Bull's picture

I forgot about that threat: Copper thieves.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:17 | 3024510 XitSam
XitSam's picture

Wasn't there something about teristos taking down remote transmission towers decades ago? Or shooting the insulators? 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:10 | 3024712 A82EBA
A82EBA's picture

1" cotton rope across low-lying power lines just before rain would be unfortunate as well

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:27 | 3025247 strayaway
strayaway's picture

Big kites should be licensed and their users need background checks.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:06 | 3024449 earnyermoney
earnyermoney's picture

Jen,

 

You're a fascist boot licker.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:16 | 3024501 P.T.Bull
P.T.Bull's picture

I don't study these things, but I am not aware of a single negative accomplishment from the michigan militia whom I have never heard of. Have they done anything besides engage in non-marxian ideology and run around with guns on private property?

To the larger point, our greatest danger is the ineptitude of government. The grid will more likely fail due to decay, rot, and failure to address increased capacity needs than any terrorists or libertarians.

Another item of note, buffett has purchased significant investment in power grid companies.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:52 | 3024637 RallyRoundTheFamily
RallyRoundTheFamily's picture

There is a fairytale about a retard from Michigan who brought a building down with a ryder truck full of fertilizer.

Many coincidences occured, secondary explosives were reported, missing footage you know like that other NYC fairytale.

Explosive experts say that couldn't happen etc..

 

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:30 | 3024557 Joebloinvestor
Joebloinvestor's picture

France has a similar problem with its' nuclear power.

Since it doesn't have the "snazziness", expect neither government to do anything till a major event.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:31 | 3024558 oddjob
oddjob's picture

Good Luck on a Cold or Dead restart. Think house of cards.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:36 | 3024570 JohnG
JohnG's picture

Generators and jerry cans FTW!

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:43 | 3024601 A82EBA
A82EBA's picture

1000w 12vdc/120vac inverters..less than $100 (at the moment)

10 deep-cycle 12v batteries and solar panel still affordable

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 15:47 | 3024621 TrumpXVI
TrumpXVI's picture

So, "Protect the Power Grid!" will be the next battle cry in the war to extinguish what's left of the Bill of Rights.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:07 | 3024702 earnulf
earnulf's picture

For crying out loud, this is not news!    Any 12 year old kid could take out the electical grid in his neighborhood with his families selection of weapons.

Whoops, wasn't supposed to say that, was I?

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:26 | 3025038 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Hire pussy riot its more apropriate than a 12 year old. 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:51 | 3024879 epwpixieq-1
epwpixieq-1's picture

In a country where most of the power grid distribution lines are on wooden poles, the security of the power grid is something that will bring 10% increment in the GDP in SPENDING.

The problem though, is that it is NOT a new service ( so one can not charge for it), it is just a common sense  and higher quality engineering of the power system, or at least it is, in some of the others more developed parts of the world.

But who will pay for quality, when everyone it talking about quantity.

As a side note, when the fundamental assumption for the power grid ( anywhere ) is that the Earth ( ground ) is negative, what happens if there is a stationary wave, with sufficiently high potential ( that can be engineered at any point on the planet ), that will make the ground to be more positive than any of the distribution power station's, hot wires?

And the hint: it is NOT good at all.

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:49 | 3024891 Quantum Nucleonics
Quantum Nucleonics's picture

Isn't the solution pretty easy?  Unplug the grid from the rest of the internet.  Put it on it's own network.  Sure it would cost a lot, and power plant operators would have to use their mobile devices to surf for porn and amazon deals.  Giving access to the grid to your average tech savvy 14 year old and the Chinese military seems like a costly, bad idea.

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 18:12 | 3025190 Darth Rayne
Darth Rayne's picture

Is this just an excuse for when you get rolling brown outs? Terrorists did it!

 

Or a reason to have the military wandering around?

 

Both, probably. You are being farmed. You are Slaves. Argue to much and you prove that you are  anti-American terrorists or un-patriotic.

 

Your Government is out of control, backed up by the worlds biggest army and largest prisons. The reserve currency pays for most of that. Best of luck with the global currency devaluation race.

Try and use a different currency to the federal reserve note. Bit coin, gold, silver or even barter if any of you can actually make or produce anything of value. Use ammo as money, at least it is useful.

 

Can ammo be money?

unit of exchange? Yes, why not. Better than bits of paper with numbers on that you have to borrow into existence (with interest payable).

unit of account? Hell yes. I have got more ammo than you means more than my bits of paper have more zeros than yours.

store of value? Yes. Ammo is ammo. A glock with a full clip is worth more than a glock without, lots more.

 

I am in the UK so I can't have a firearm. However, I don't need one, yet.

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 19:34 | 3025418 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

Whilst the panic re. "Internet-mediated infrastructure violation" might be tech. and so sexy, the facts are that the most effective assault on the grid would certainly be physical violation.

The equipment is not armoured, and it is remarkably delicate. Major switching centres tend to be in remote areas ('cause people don't want this infrastructure in THEIR back yard thank you!), and the transmission lines are vulnerable 'cause of their remoteness too.

http://www.apexhandtools.com/customer_service/pdf/HKPorterSect_050610LR.pdf  - You don't even NEED to use noisy power tools either - patience and hand - operated hydraulic shears will work fine on the mild steel transmission towers. For the "extra-adventurous" one can even buy non-conductive hydraulic hose! http://www.jgbhose.com/Data_Returns/detail_company.asp?prod_id=19562.

The concern is that ALL these resources are but a very quick Google search away, and NONE of these resources are "regulated" purchases.

Mind you the above comment re. destruction of a local substation courtesy of a few old tires should indicate that you don't really need anything even remotely sophisticated to unleash a reign of terror on your neighbours, which MUST be of some concern to anyone with half a braincell!

 

 

Fri, 11/30/2012 - 21:53 | 3025688 10mm
10mm's picture

I hope the Sun Farts"Really Big".

Sat, 12/01/2012 - 15:42 | 3026632 They Tried to S...
They Tried to Steal My Gold's picture

Any coincidence the Democratic controlled Senate does not the grid to be upgraded? 

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