transmission and distribution systems are robust in the face of possible attack and can be rapidly restored if such an attack does ever occur. But that alone is not sufficient. Our society continues to become ever more dependent on electric power. Even without the threat of terrorism, there is a risk of occasional power outages, some of which will be widespread and may last for some time. Terrorism increases the probability of both the extent and the duration of such outages and could cause them to occur at particularly inconvenient or damaging moments. Thus, in addition to strengthening the grid, society should also focus on identifying critical services and developing strategies to keep them operating in the event of power outages—be they accidental or the result of terrorist attack. These issues are discussed in chapter 8, and recommendations are offered there to reduce future vulnerability.

There are many technologies and strategies that could be employed to make the power system more robust in the face of terrorist attack, speed service restoration after an attack, and continue the provision of critical services while the power is out. They all cost money, often much more money than society can afford. The best way to make existing approaches cheaper, and to develop new, even more effective and affordable approaches, is through research. chapter 9 discusses the current state of research for electric power and presents a set of recommendations for research needs and strategies. Two key points became apparent as the committee explored these issues. First, with only a few exceptions, the research that is needed to address the broad problems faced by the transmission and distribution system, and the research that would be conducted specifically to address the threat of terrorism, are largely the same, and the latter cannot be adequately undertaken without a balanced and comprehensive approach to the former. Second, measured in a number of ways, the current level of power system research investment is much smaller than it should be. This deficiency has long been recognized by those who work in and with the industry. However, agreeing on institutional arrangements that can significantly increase the levels of research investment in this field has been a persistent problem. chapter 9 notes one possible strategy, but the committee did not have a unanimous view on how best to proceed.

Details on specific research needs can be found in the discussion in chapter 9.

In the sections below, the recommendations from chapters 6 through 9 are sorted according to the agency or institution that should take primary responsibility for handling the issue.


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should develop a strategy to assess how secure inherently vulnerable infrastructure (such as the electric power delivery system) should be made from the perspective of the collective national interest.

Because the level of security that is economically rational for most infrastructure operators will be less than the level that is optimal from the perspective of the collective national interest, the DHS should develop a coherent plan to address the incremental cost of upgrading and protecting critical infrastructure to that higher level.

In the specific context of electric power delivery, the DHS should:

•   Recommendation 1 Take the lead and work with the DOE and with relevant private parties to develop and stockpile a family of easily transported high-voltage recovery transformers and other key equipment. Although the expected benefits to the nation of such a program are difficult to quantify, they would certainly be many times its cost if the transformers are needed (see Chapters 3, 6, and 9).

•   Recommendation 2 Work to promote the adoption of many other technologies and organizational changes, identified in this report, that could reduce the vulnerability of the power delivery system and facilitate its more rapid restoration should an attack occur (see chapters 6 and 7).

•   Recommendation 3 Work with the power industry to better clarify the role of power system operators after terrorist events through the development of memoranda of understanding and planned and rehearsed response programs that include designating appropriate power-system personnel as first responders (see chapters 7 and 8).

•   Recommendation 4 Offer assistance to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to state public service commissions, and to other public and private parties in finding ways to ensure that utilities and transmission operators have appropriate incentives to accelerate the process of upgrading power delivery and eliminating its most obvious vulnerabilities (see chapter 6).

•   Recommendation 5 Work with the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget to substantially increase the level of federal basic technology research investment in power delivery. The committee notes that (1) much of what is needed has the nature of a “public good” that the private sector will not develop on its own; (2) current levels of research investment are woefully inadequate; and (3) most of the system’s vulnerabilities to terrorism are integrally linked to other more general problems and vulnerabilities of the system and cannot be resolved in isolation (see chapter 9).

•   Recommendation 6 Take the lead in initiating planning at the state and local level to reduce the vulnerability of critical services in the event of disruption

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