EMP attack on the electrical power system is an extraordinarily serious problem but one that can be reduced below the level of a catastrophic national consequence through focused effort coordinated between industry and government.
Industry is responsible for assuring system reliability, efficiency, and cost effectiveness as a matter of meeting required service levels to be paid for by its customers. Government is responsible for protecting the society and its infrastructure, including the electric power system. Only government can deal with barriers to attack — interdiction before consequence. Only government can set the standards necessary to provide the appropriate level of protection against catastrophic damage from EMP for the civilian sector. Government must validate related enhancements to systems, fund security-only related elements, and assist in funding others.
The situation created by the HEMP threat is clear. Many portions of our critical infrastructure are at risk, including the power grid itself. While there are options available for dealing with HEMP, the most important question is whether we can expect commercial business to deal with this problem alone. A Special EMP Commission (SEMPC) must be founded and has discussed this point in their deliberations, and while commercial businesses could choose to enhance their protection levels above those needed for other electromagnetic threats, the distributed infrastructure cannot be protected with a piecemeal local approach. Government will have to take a role, either by coordinating the work to be done and/or by providing incentives to accomplish the job over time. While the military has experience in dealing with its systems and the threat of HEMP, it is not well positioned to deal with the commercial infrastructure. It seems that this is a role for the SEMPC. High impact threat of HEMP that requires a combination of protection, operational procedures and rebuilding after an attack.
From a protection point of view, standardization bodies such as the IEC have already initiated standards dealing with protecting equipment and systems from HEMP:IEC TR 61000-1-3: Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 1-3: General – The effects of high-altitude EMP (HEMP) on civil equipment and systems
From an operational point of view, studies should be performed for each of the infrastructures to determine whether an alert would allow them to be placed in a less vulnerable state. For example, Metatech Corporation has provided a power grid operator 30 minutes notice of an impending geomagnetic storm that could cause a regional power system collapse. In addition, operational actions were predetermined in order to allow quick reaction to the impending storm. With pre-planning, power companies would be prepared to avoid a potentially severe power grid voltage collapse caused by a HEMP burst in their region of operation.
In terms of rebuilding after an attack, another option is to anticipate the types of damage that could occur and to preposition replacement equipment where it is likely to be needed. This could reduce the problem of shortages of equipment that seldom fail under normal operations but would have a much higher failure rate during a HEMP attack.
It should be understood that these three building blocks are not
mutually exclusive, and in fact cost-benefit analyses would be effective in
determining the optimum balance between protection, operational responses and
rebuilding. In the end, however, it is still critical that SEMPC with another
government agency take the responsibility to plan and oversee the protection of
the such critical infrastructure as national power grid from this HEMP threat.
Protecting our power grid against the evolving EMP threat will require a mix of active defenses, passive defenses, and policy changes. It is not practical to try to protect the entire electrical power system or even all highvalue components from damage by an EMP event. There are too many components of too many different types, manufactures, ages, and designs. The cost and time would be prohibitive. Widespread collapse of the electrical power system in the area affected by EMP is virtually inevitable after a broad geographic EMP attack, with even a modest numberof unprotected components. Since this is a given, the focus of protection is to retain and restore service to critical loads while permitting relatively rapid restoration. The approach to protection has the following fundamental aspects. These will collectively reduce the recovery and restoration times and minimize the net impact from assault. All of this is feasible in terms of cost and timing if done as part of a comprehensive and reasonable response to the threats, whether the assault is physical, electromagnetic (such as EMP), or cyber.
1. Protect high-value assets through hardening. Hardening, providing for special
grounding, and other schemes are required to assure the functional operation of protection equipment for large high-value assets such as transformers, breakers, and generators and to so protect against sequential, subsequent impacts from E2 and E3 creating damage. Protection through hardening critical elements of the natural gas transportatio and gas supply systems to key power plants that will be necessary for electrical system recovery is imperative.
2. Assure there are adequate communication assets dedicated or available to the electrical system operators so that damage during system collapse can be minimized; components requiring human intervention to bring them on-line are identified and located; critical manpower can be contacted and dispatched; fuel, spare parts and other commodities critical to the electrical system restoration can be allocated; and provide the ability to match generation to load and bring the system back on line.
3. Protect the use of emergency power supplies and fuel delivery, and importantly, provide for their sustained use as part of the protection of critical loads, which loads must be identified by government but can also be assured by private action. Specifically:
— Increase the battery and on-site generating capability for key substation and control facilities to extend the critical period allowing recovery. This is relatively low cost and will improve reliability as well as provide substantial protection against all forms of attack.
— Require key gasoline and diesel service stations and distribution facilities in geographic areas to have at-site generation, fueled off existing tanks, to assure fuel fo transportation and other services, including refueling emergency generators in the immediate area.
— Require key fueling stations for the railroads to have standby generation, similar to that required for service stations and distribution facilities.
— Require the emergency generator start, operation, and interconnection mechanisms to be EMP hardened or manual. This will also require the ability to isolate these facilities from the main electrical power system during emergency generation operation and such isolation switching must be EMP hardened.
— Make the interconnection of diesel electric railroad engines and large ships possible and harden such capability, including the continued operation of the units.
— The Government must determine and specify immediately those strategically important electrical loads critical to the Nation to preserve in such an emergency.
4. Install substantially more black start generation (diezel generators) units coupled with specific transmission that can be readily isolated to balancing loads. Requiring all power plants above a certain significant size to have black start or fuel-switching capability (with site-stored fuel) would be a very small added expense that would provide major benefits against all disruptions including nonadversarial ones. Black start generator, operation, and interconnection mechanisms must be EMP hardened or be manual without microelectronic dependence. This also will require the ability to isolate these facilities from the main electrical power system during emergency generation operation and that isolation switching is EMP hardened. In addition, sufficient fuel must be provided, as necessary, to substantially expand the critical period for recovery.
5. Improve, extend, and exercise recovery capabilities. Develop procedures for addressing the impact of such attacks to identify weaknesses, provide training for personnel and develop EMP response training procedures and coordinate all activities and appropriate agencies and industry. While developing response plans, training and coordination are the primary purpose.6. Do not decrease manpower resources in critical departments . The time required for full recovery of service would depend on both the damage to the electric power infrastructure and to other critical national infrastructures. Larger affected areas and stronger EMP field strengths will prolong the time to recover. Some critical electric power components are no longer manufactured, and their acquisition ordinarily requires up to a year of lead-time in routine circumstances. Damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more. There is a point at which the shortage or exhaustion of sustaining backup systems, including emergency power supplies, standby fuel supplies, communications, and manpower resources, leads to a continuing degradation of critical infrastructures for a prolonged period, with highly adverse consequences to our population and forces.
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Besides, the intellectual system of automatic control itself is especially developed for this proving area of Russian power industry by the defense industry enterprises based on technologies applied in spaceships manufacturing. According to employees of this center, the reliability of their system far more exceeds that of microprocessor based systems manufactured by the leading relay manufacturing concerns of the world.We think that such a policy and such approaches should be taken into consideration. This way we’ll manage to avoid new disasters and huge financial losses.