A federal agency charged with protecting the reliability of the United States’ power grid last week rejected an appeal by industry experts who say a new “hollow” reliability standard leaves the country wide open to widespread blackouts.
In April, For the Record revealed the gaps in security for the U.S. infrastructure in “Unguarded.” Dr. Peter Pry, a U.S. energy grid expert, says Thursday’s decision to uphold the North American Electric Reliability Corporation standard will plague the overall protection of the grid.
Experts argue extra-high voltage transformers need additional protection from manmade attacks and natural events, such as solar flares and other geomagnetic disturbances. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shot down a “last-stop” appeal from some grid experts to prevent a “junk science” reliability standard from being implemented.
“On Oct. 16, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Geomagnetic Disturbance Standard proposed by the [NERC], despite the gross inadequacy of the standard,” Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, told TheBlaze.
Pry explained this was a “last-stop” effort to keep the federal agency from implementing “junk science.”
“This is a big set back for those of us trying to protect our nation … it is better to have no GMD standard than a fake GMD standard that will lull policymakers and the public into complacency about an existential threat to our civilization,” he said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is tasked with safeguarding the grid from both manmade attacks and natural events so high voltage transmissions can still function between states in the event of an incident. But Pry said two big issues with the FERC-approved standard would actually made the grid more vulnerable.
“In this standard it does not require the electric power industry to place [geomagnetically induced current] monitors at the transformer substations,” Pry explained. “The idea here is that if you had these monitors at transformer substations, you’d actually be collecting real data over the years on the geomagnetic fields.”