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Weak Security For America’s Electric Grid Makes Us Vulnerable

 Posted 09/26/2014 06:51 PM ET

The U.S. conducts airstrikes in Syria to prevent terrorist acts here at home. At the same time, U.S. utilities leverage a weak regulatory process to minimize responsibility for protecting critical electric grid facilities.

Overseas military action is not enough to protect the public. We also need effective defensive measures for our critical infrastructure, starting with the grid upon which modern life depends. Unfortunately, electric grid security is weak, and the regulatory process is failing.

The vulnerability of America’s electric grid is well-known. In March 2014, a leaked staff analysis from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revealed that an attack on only nine critical transformer substations could bring down our continental grid for 18 months.

According to this federal grid regulator, an attack on just four substations could black out the grid from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast. An attack on just three could black out California and 10 other western states. Replacing the custom-made transformers to restore power would take months, using equipment primarily from foreign suppliers.