Why so many utilities are rehearsing the death of the grid (and you should too)


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: In case you missed it, the New York Times ran a piece describing the upcoming drill to rehearse for a major attack on the grid. This would be a great time to plan something similar for your own utility. - By Jesse Berst


In November, a group led by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) will simulate physical and cyber attacks that could bring down big chunks of the grid. NERC spokesman Brian Harrell claims the drill will go far beyond the type of two-or three-day outage caused by a storm.


The Times article describes the electric grid as "the glass jaw of American industry." A knockout blow could black out vast areas for weeks and interrupt essential supplies of water, gas and food. A National Academy of Sciences report last year said terrorists could cause hardships for months with physical attacks on hard-to-replace components.


The November drill - called GridEx II - will involve thousands of utility professionals, National Guard officers, FBI experts and federal officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 150 companies have signed up to participate. This is double the number of participants from the first such exercise, held two years ago.


In an effort to draw utilities and the government closer, the industry recently established the Electricity Sub-Sector Coordinating Council, which will meet for the first time in September. Some groups are pressuring state legislatures and regulators to force utilities to do a better job of protecting equipment.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

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