Massive Drill Planned to Test Resiliency of U.S. Electric Grid

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 21, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

A massive ex­er­cise is planned for Novem­ber that aims to test the re­si­li­ency of the U.S. power grid to with­stand ma­jor dam­age caused by a nat­ur­al dis­aster or de­lib­er­ate at­tack, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Thou­sands of people are pre­par­ing for the drill, in­clud­ing U.S, Mex­ic­an and Ca­na­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. They are join­ing busi­ness lead­ers, U.S. Na­tion­al Guard of­ficers, coun­terter­ror­ism spe­cial­ists and util­ity per­son­nel to tee up the ex­er­cise, which will im­it­ate kin­et­ic strikes and com­puter as­saults that could shut down large swaths of the elec­tric­al net­work.

In ex­cess of 150 en­tit­ies have agreed to take part in the sim­u­lated event, called “Gri­dEx 2.”

Fears about the pos­sible det­on­a­tion of a nuc­le­ar war­head in the skies above the United States, for the pur­poses of cre­at­ing an elec­tro­mag­net­ic pulse aimed at sizz­ling elec­tron­ics on the ground, have led a num­ber of pub­lic fig­ures to call for sig­ni­fic­ant steps to strengthen the power grid. Ex-CIA head R. James Wool­sey is plan­ning a cam­paign to con­vince state gov­ern­ments to pass laws re­quir­ing util­it­ies to harden their elec­tron­ics against po­ten­tial EMP at­tacks.

A key ob­ject­ive of Gri­dEx 2 is to learn how gov­ern­ments would handle a loss of elec­tric­al power that is large enough to drastic­ally af­fect the de­liv­ery of com­mon and es­sen­tial goods and ser­vices.

Gov­ern­ment and util­ity com­pan­ies have dis­cussed in re­cent years how chal­len­ging it can be to pro­tect the power grid, which is in­volved in nearly all as­pects of mod­ern life. It is man­aged in large part by a patch­work of re­gion­al and city au­thor­it­ies and privately owned firms.

Some util­ity-sec­tor of­fi­cials blame the gov­ern­ment for not shar­ing in­tel­li­gence about threats to the power grid. In re­sponse, gov­ern­ment lead­ers have re­com­men­ded that some util­ity heads ap­ply for se­cur­ity clear­ances that would al­low them ac­cess to clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion.

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