Second, Educate Others: Educating your circle of influence is the next step. The electrical industry does a great job delivering energy to America each day but someone still needs the authority to make sure that energy and the lives depending on it are safe and secure. The electrical industry lobby has a conflict of interest when it comes to securing the grid. They have millions at their disposal to downplay threats and re-assure the public of their reliability. Reliability is NOT the same as resiliency. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the electrical industry’s reports of high reliability.
Education and knowledge in the scientific community within the electrical industry will help to secure the grid. Educating the public is a big part of what the Secure the Grid Coalition does. After 11 government studies, established and uncontrovertable threat assessments, as well as the advice of our Nation’s top scientists, the industry has failed to harden the grid against major solar storms, physical attacks, cyberattacks, and EMP attack.
Because much of our military’s practices for grid protection were classified for so long (since the Starfish Prime experiment in 1962), there has been a lag time in learning by the scientific and security communities regarding threats to the grid and what it takes to mitigate them. Civil society groups without motivations of profit have been filling the gap to educate policy makers and state legislators on what they can do to protect the grid. Many of those groups form the Secure the Grid Coalition. You can learn about what those groups are doing and how you can help on the Education and What You Can Do tabs.
Third, Tell Your Elected Officials: Policy makers on a local level have already begun to get smart and challenge the electrical industry to higher standards. They can use your support. Tell your elected officials that you want them to be a part of the solution.
The most fundamental reason the grid is not protected with currently available hardening technology is that no one is in charge or taking initiative. The fact that the grid is owned by the private sector (on which the DoD depends for 99% of its operational capability according to congressional testimony) is the main excuse for government inaction.
Conflict of interest: Those who own and make money from the electrical grid should not be in charge of regulating safety and security. The electrical industry spends millions a year on research and lobbyists who promote low standards and bad science.
1. The vulnerability of the U.S. electrical grid must be understood as a national security issue alone. The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act is a strong first step. Leaders in the Executive branch must deeply understand and own this issue as should members of both parties in Congress.
2. Congress and the Executive Branch need a sense of urgency to get the grid hardened. This will require enforceable safety regulations that do not exist under the current FERC / NERC arrangement. Physical hardening of the grid is possible and affordable. The electrical industry needs the equivalent regulation as that of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the nuclear industry or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the aviation industry.
3. A hardened grid is a deterrent to those who wish and plan to harm the U.S. When the grid is hardened, attacking it will no longer be an asymmetric advantage or a desirable and cost effective option for adversaries. (Asymetrical warefare is defined as warfare involving surprise attacks by small and relatively simply armed groups on a nation armed with modern high-tech weaponry.)