The potential threats to the US electrical grid remain high in the minds of people, government leaders and utility officials. Days after the terrorist attacks on the city of Paris, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) conducted a massive exercise that simulated coordinated attacks on the grid located in the US, Canada and Mexico. A terrorist attack on the grid will result into massive blackouts that will affect millions of people.
According to Gerry Cauley, the president and CEO of NERC, the attacks on Paris resulted to heightened awareness on the risks faced by the electrical grid and other infrastructures. Threats to electricity grids are not new because early this year, USA Today investigation on cyber and physical attacks on the US grid mentioned that such incidents occur once every four years.
There are many threats to the electricity grid and they continue to evolve. Terrorists are getting better but NERC thinks they are pretty good now with their capabilities to recover. Events are really challenging and it certainly pushes NERC to its limits. The latest exercise is the third of its kind since 2011 and it included cyber-attacks on the systems that control the generation and transmission of electric power. It also includes physical attacks with the intent to make vital equipment inoperable.
The previous two exercises involved new procedures that aim to protect the grid against incursions including improvements in communication, inventories of critical replacement parts and preservation of forensic information and evidence. The terrorist attacks in Paris did not involve any electrical infrastructure but federal officials from the US Energy and Homeland Security had consults with utility executives on the dangers to the gird.
The likelihood of such scenario to occur in the US is rather small but the simulation exercises are supposed to check the grid’s opportunity to deal with a worst case scenario. Almost everything in the world today runs on electricity. It is not only the grid’s safety that should be taken into account but the safety of homes against electrical hazards. For your peace of mind, call the emergency electricians.