Archive for June, 2011

June 9, 2011

The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation’s electrical systems.

Here is an informative website on the United States power grid system, with numerous maps: http://www.solcomhouse.com/uspowergrid.htm

Right now various components of the United States power grid are experiencing problems from multiple threats.

(1) Arizona Wallow Fire Approaching Power Supplies to Two States (New Mexico and Texas)
Christian Post online June 9, 2011

Firefighters have battled through the night in an attempt to protect numerous Arizona mountain communities from the spreading Wallow fire that has forced thousands to evacuate and flee their homes.

The fire has now become the second largest ever seen in Arizona, and is threatening electricity supplies as far away as Texas.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/arizona-wallow-fire-approaching-power-supplies-to-two-states-51002/

(2) Extreme weather is causing scattered power outages across Canada and the United States, including Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Masssachusetts, Virginia, and others. Some power grids have increased problems due to outdated infrastructure, such as Detroit:

Downtown Detroit left in the dark after power malfunction
Detroit Free Press online 9 June 2011

A major malfunction Thursday at the beleaguered Detroit Public Lighting Department knocked out Fire Department phones and power to traffic lights, municipal buildings, courts, schools and the People Mover, prompting fears that traffic snarls, widespread outages and disruptions likely would continue through tonight.

http://www.freep.com/article/20110610/NEWS01/106100445/Downtown-Detroit-left-dark-after-power-malfunction?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

From The Detroit News: City spokeswoman Karen Dumas said the outage was caused by extreme power demand for air conditioning after two days in the 90s.

http://detnews.com/article/20110609/METRO/106090463/Officials-say-heat-caused-Detroit-power-outage#ixzz1OrSpMtuC

(3) This Week’s Solar Flare Illuminates the Grid’s Vulnerability
New York Times online June 9, 2011

A massive burst of solar wind that erupted from the sun Tuesday is expected to deliver only a “glancing blow” to the Earth’s vulnerable magnetic field, NASA officials said yesterday. But it will preview what some experts call a potentially existential threat to the power grids of the United States and other nations, and the populations that depend on them.

http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/06/09/09climatewire-this-weeks-solar-flare-illuminates-the-grids-63979.html

(4) Cyber Attack on U.S. Electric Grid ‘Gravest Short Term Threat’ to National Security, Lawmakers Say
ABC News May 31, 2011

ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: The United States is ill-prepared to deal with a cyber attack on the nation’s electric grid, one of the biggest national security threats facing the country today, lawmakers warned.

“The sobering reality is this vulnerability, if left unaddressed, could have grave, societal-altering consequences,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee today. “We face a menace that may represent the gravest short term threat to the peace and security of the human family in the world today.”

Experiments by federal agencies in recent years have shown that cyber spies have intruded the U.S. electric system, and that it’s increasingly susceptible to attacks by hackers and foreign governments.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/05/cyber-attack-on-us-electric-grid-gravest-short-term-threat-to-national-security-lawmakers-say.html

Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies
Wall Street Journal online
April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123914805204099085.html#ixzz1OrfUR1R4