Electrical Utilities Increase Security Protection

A report by the Washington-based Congressional Research Service said the U.S. electric grid may be vulnerable to a terrorist attack, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has proposed regulations to protect the grid, largely prompted by last year's armed attack that took out high-voltage transformers in California. The California attack was a "wake-up call for the industry" that there is "high probability" of an outside physical attack against the U.S. electric grid, said Jasvir Gill, CEO of consultant AlertEnterprise Corp. in Fremont, Calif.

Utilities previously focused on IT risks from insiders, rather than physical attacks by outsiders. For example, Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc. plans to spend up to $500 million over the next five to seven years to protect its critical infrastructure from man-made physical threats and natural disasters, and stockpile equipment for major damage recovery.

The substations that are considered critical elements of the nation's electric power grid also are the most vulnerable to intentional damage from malicious attacks, the Congressional Research Service report said.

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