cading failure after a terrorist attack. The committee reached this conclusion in part from an informal questionnaire the committee developed and distributed to leading technical experts in the field. This questionnaire identified a variety of potential short- and long-term R&D needs for transmission and distribution. Respondents were asked to prioritize needs first for the industry as a whole and then strictly in terms of reducing vulnerability to terrorism. With a few exceptions, the research needs in the two cases were identical.

The committee is very concerned that the level of actual investment in power system research is currently much smaller than it should be as measured according to a variety of societal metrics. However, agreeing on institutional arrangements that can significantly increase the levels of nongovernmental research investment in this field has been a persistent problem. Chapter 9 discusses one possible strategy, but the committee was unable to reach a unanimous view on how best to resolve this problem.

WHAT SHOULD THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY DO?

The level of protection for and resiliency of the electric power grid against terrorist attacks needs to increase. However, 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. Therefore, 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 Department of Homeland Security 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 of conventional power supplies, and offer pilot and incremental funding to implement these activities where appropriate (see Chapter 8).

•  Recommendation 7 Develop a national inventory of portable generation equipment that can be used to power critical loads during an extended outage. Explore public and private strategies for building and maintaining an adequate inventory of such equipment (see Chapter 8).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement