Survey: Utilities Struggle to Detect and Deter Physical Security Threats
A large percentage of respondents (40%) indicated their utility has not taken any hardening actions in the last two years to delay or limit damage of their critical assets from physical threats.
WASHINGTON – To better understand the threats utilities face and how the grid’s most critical assets are being safeguarded, Web site Utility Dive conducted a survey produced in partnership with ABB, a leader in power and automation technologies, of more than 200 U.S. electric utility executives to understand how their utilities are addressing physical security. Key findings from the survey as posted on windpowerengineering.com include:
â€¢ The biggest challenge for utilities taking actions to improve physical grid security is an uncertain or difficult path to cost recovery.
â€¢ While most utilities have identified their critical substations and taken steps to assess potential vulnerabilities and threats to comply with NERC CIP-014, 28% say they have not yet completed any further initiatives.
â€¢ Natural disasters and aging infrastructure are considered the most severe threats for physical grid security.
â€¢ A large percentage of respondents (40%) indicated their utility has not taken any hardening actions in the last two years to delay or limit damage of their critical assets from physical threats. Every year, the nation’s electric grid faces a myriad of physical threats – natural disasters, equipment failure, accidents, solar flares, and even planned acts of sabotage. Because these vulnerabilities can result in extended power outages that have severe economic consequences, physical grid security has become a principal concern for utilities and regulators.
â€¢ One of the biggest challenges for utilities recovering from major events is replacing large power transformers. Most utility executives surveyed believe that a national Strategic Transformer Reserve program is an important or critical need.
â€¢ Utilities are planning a variety of approaches to hasten recovery from major events, including stockpiling equipment, benchmarking best practices with industry groups, hardening substations, and developing rapid recovery plans.
The results of the survey indicate that while utilities are taking many steps to detect and deter physical security threats, preventing damage and recovering quickly remain significant challenges for the industry. You can view the full report here.
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