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Could terrorists really black out the power grid?

Why the grid is ‘inherently vulnerable’

The U.S. electrical grid was not designed with today’s complexities in mind — let alone the ability to withstand terrorist attacks. 

“The power grid is inherently vulnerable because it is spread across hundreds of miles, and many key facilities are unguarded,” the report prepared for Homeland Security found. “Electric systems are not designed to withstand or quickly recover from damage inflicted simultaneously on multiple components. Such an attack could be carried out by knowledgeable attackers with little risk of detection or interdiction. Further well-planned and coordinated attacks by terrorists could leave the electric power system in a large region of the country at least partially disabled for a very long time.”

Another big reason the grid is vulnerable is that it takes a long time to replace equipment — such as large boilers, turbines and transformers — underpinning the nation’s critical infrastructure. It could take months or even years to replace such equipment, according to estimates.

Utility Dive

Another reason why a distributed, resilient architecture such as the promoted in the Smart-Grid concept makes sense.

Even if not by deliberate acts of violence, that the destruction of so few key points in the electrical system can completely blackout a coutry of the size of the US for over a year is downright “frightening”.

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