Addressing System Vulnerabilities

After implementing the above, the next step should be for the industry to analyze the system’s specific components, probably through the regional reliability planning councils. It would then be possible for the utilities, independent system operators (ISOs), and regional transmission operators (RTOs) to determine which components are most vulnerable from a system perspective.

Once determined, these components should be given the highest priority for hardening and protection, including enhanced surveillance and response, fortified barriers to intrusion (both by land and from the air), installation of bulletproof walls around equipment vulnerable to firearms, and, possibly, installation of redundant, geographically separated systems.

Industry also should examine how to expedite recovery from a widespread attack. This should include a review of current sparing philosophy for critical components. “Business as usual” is not likely to be an adequate approach. Increased redundancy also would be useful, such as with control systems, which could be decentralized and designed with duplicate backups to minimize the loss of control from an attack. Utilities and other operators also should plan for a “black start” following a large-scale blackout. Location of critical equipment to accomplish this might be aided by the use of simulation models, threat scenarios, and system models to deal with the multiplicity of challenges. This action may be augmented in the future by the development of an adaptive grid, as discussed below in Recommendation 6.16.

Recommendation 6.4: Utilities, independent system operators (ISOs), and regional transmission operators (RTOs) should identify the most critical equipment for protection in their respective domains. This protection, where it does not already exist, should then be accomplished with available technology, including (1) increased surveillance of critical sites and equipment, (2) hardening of selected sites, (3) installation of barriers to prevent motor-vehicle or rail intrusion, and (4) masking of thermal signatures of selected equipment. As part of this examination, policies for critical-equipment spare parts should be reviewed, including consideration of cooperative efforts for employing regionally based and coordinated spares centers.

The possibility of cascading damage from an attack on the transmission lines themselves could be reduced by developing and implementing new designs for conductors, towers, and transmission corridors. Although the industry has examined this problem for weather-related and other circumstances, what is now needed is a top-to-bottom review that assumes a deliberate and extensive attack.

Recommendation 6.5: An immediate review of electric transmission lines should be initiated, through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the regional reliability councils, to identify opportunities for

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