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Update: Blackout For November Confirmed: Power Grid Drill Nov 13, 14, 2013 (New Video Added)

Sunday, September 29, 2013 8:04
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(Before It's News)

(N.Morgan) As reported on the 20th of September, FEMA is planning a blackout drill. We now have confirmation of this exercise occurring November 13th- 14th.  This is why thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. anti terrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attacks and cyber attacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.

 

UPDATED INFO HERE

 

Thanks to Debra Dew for the new video! You rock, Sister!

They will practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate. “This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”

One goal of the drill, called GridEx II, is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities. “If we fail at electricity, we’re going to fail miserably,” Curt Hébert, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a recent conference held by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Mr. Harrell said that previous exercises were based on the expectation that electricity “would be up and running relatively quick” after an attack. Now, he said, the goal is to “educate the federal government on what their expectations should or shouldn’t be.” The industry held a smaller exercise two years ago in which 75 utilities, companies and agencies participated, but this one will be vastly expanded and will be carried out in a more anxious mood.

 

Most of the participants will join the exercise from their workplaces, with NERC, in Washington, announcing successive failures. One example, organizers say, is a substation break-in that officials initially think is an attempt to steal copper. But instead, the intruder uses a USB drive to upload a virus into a computer network. The drill is part of a give-and-take in the past few years between the government and utilities that has exposed the difficulties of securing the electric system.

The grid is essential for almost everything, but it is mostly controlled by investor-owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. Ninety-nine percent of military facilities rely on commercial power, according to the White House. The utilities play down their abilities, in comparison with the government’s. “They have the intelligence operation, the standing army, the three-letter agencies,” said Scott Aaronson, senior director of national security policy at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities. “We have the grid operations expertise.”

That expertise involves running 5,800 major power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, monitored and controlled by a staggering mix of devices installed over decades. Some utilities use their own antique computer protocols and are probably safe from hacking — what the industry calls “security through obscurity.”

But others rely on Windows-based control systems that are common to many industries. Some of them run on in-house networks, but computer security experts say they are not confident that all the connections to the public Internet have been discovered and secured. Many may be vulnerable to software — known as malware — that can disable the systems or destroy their ability to communicate, leaving their human operators blind about the positions of switches, the flows of current and other critical parameters. Experts say a sophisticated hacker could also damage hard-to-replace equipment.

In an effort to draw utilities and the government closer, the industry recently established the Electricity Sub-Sector Coordinating Council, made up of high-level executives, to meet with federal officials. The first session is next month. Preparation for the November drill comes as Congress is debating laws that could impose new standards to protect the grid from cyberattacks, but many in the industry, some of whom would like such rules, doubt that they can pass.

The drill is also being planned as conferences, studies and even works of fiction are raising near-apocalyptic visions of catastrophes involving the grid. A National Academy of Sciences report last year said that terrorists could cause broad hardship for months with physical attacks on hard-to-replace components. An emerging effort led in part by R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is gearing up to pressure state legislatures to force utilities to protect equipment against an electromagnetic pulse, which could come from solar activity or be caused by small nuclear weapons exploded at low altitude, frying crucial components.

An attack using an electromagnetic pulse is laid out in extensive detail in the novel “One Second After,” published in 2009 and endorsed by Newt Gingrich. In another novel, “Gridlock,” published this summer and co-written by Byron L. Dorgan, the former senator from North Dakota, a rogue Russian agent working for Venezuela and Iran helps hackers threaten the grid. In the preface, Mr. Dorgan says such an attack could cause 10,000 times as much devastation as the terrorists’ strikes on Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the growing anxiety, the government and the private sector have had trouble coordinating their grid protection efforts. The utility industry argues that the government has extensive information on threats but keeps it classified. Government officials concede the problem, and they have suggested that some utility executives get security clearances. But with hundreds of utilities and thousands of executives, it cannot issue such clearances fast enough. And the industry would like to be instantly warned when the government identifies Internet servers that are known to be sources of malware.

Another problem is that the electric system is so tightly integrated that a collapse in one spot, whether by error or intent, can set off a cascade, as happened in August 2003, when a power failure took a few moments to spread from Detroit to New York.

Sometimes utility engineers and law enforcement officials also seem to speak different languages. In his book “Protecting Industrial Control Systems From Electronic Threats,” Joseph Weiss, an engineer and cybersecurity expert, recounted a meeting between electrical engineers and the F.B.I. in 2008. When an F.B.I. official spoke at length about I.E.D.’s, he was referring to improvised explosive devices, but to the engineers the abbreviation meant intelligent electronic devices. And experts fear government-sponsored hacking. Michael V. Hayden, another former C.I.A. director, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center conference, said that the Stuxnet virus, which disabled some of Iran’s centrifuges for enriching uranium, might invite retaliation. “In a time of peace, someone just used a cyberweapon to destroy another nation’s critical infrastructure,” he said. “Ouch.”

 

 

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Total 20 comments
  • Escher

    “others rely on Windows-based control systems that are common to many industries”

    And, as was recently revealed, we can thank the NSA for systematically weakening encryption for Windows as well as other OS’s and applications. Real smart move there guys…

  • Anonymous

    It probably wont all come back on again.. Unforeseen technical reasons, an excuse for marshal law ect. Then of course you are giving every criminal and gang with a bit of sense plenty of time to get organised for the ”Big night” of crime. Apart from that everything will be ok.

  • resonator

    Glad I have stock in Yankee Candles

    • Gator

      sorry to tell you yankee candle is in the target area…massachussetts…no production

  • Sid

    The US is on the way down. Our economy depends on energy and each year it takes up more energy than the last just to acquire more energy, leaving less to fuel the economy. This requires greater and greater production each year just to stand still, but we are at geological limits for most energy sources. This means that the economy can’t expand easily and more likely will enter long term contraction.

    The power grid is already toward the end of its design life, and we don’t have the resources to modernize it, much less properly maintain it, especially in a contracting economy. The power grid is probably where we will see massive failure first, and we won’t need terrorism or EMP to take it down; it will just fail from being strained and obsolete. If we fall into civil war or revolution, both possibilities, then sabotage will take it out. If we involve ourselves in another World War, then that will take it out.

    I think this is the most likely future. Even the incompetent federal government has this on their radar as a possibility, and sees the ramifications. Without a functioning power grid that can’t be restarted, as many as 7 out of 8 Americans could quickly perish. While that sounds outlandish to some, I think it is something those of us who wish to survive should take seriously.

    • wirkbot

      Yes, insuring personal survival is the only reasonable response in the face of this credible threat. The grid going down is the breaking of every link in every supply chain. It would not be a “prep” or die situation. it would be “prepped” or die.

  • wirkbot

    It looks to me like the only way this upcoming drill will be a success would be if the following were in place now:

    EMP hardening of the grid.

    The ability to operate the grid manually if computer software became corrupted.

    The ability of the grid to break up into isolated sections to avoid cascade failures.

    Local supplies of spare components to replace fried components in the case of terrorist attacks or a solar flare.

    So it looks like failure may be a foregone conclusion.

    • zgravity

      On your comment about operating the grid manually here is the deal. I worked in power plants the one thing that new plants built have no steam back up. so operating the grid manually is at best a crap shoot where the breakers have to be engaged manually. A 13,300 volt breaker is hard to engage. A 115,000 volt breaker is even worst. Now go with the 240,000 volt breaker now you have a big problem. all of these breakers are at the discharge end of the transformers and some have then before and after the transformer. also we must remember that if there is any electricity on the line and no way to monitor the correct voltage and amperage at the right frequency you have even bigger problems. Those days of doing it manually are almost gone. heaven help us.

  • Uncle Nobby

    so what you are saying is that for years and years, decades even, these :cool: power companies have reaped obscene profits from the public, and done absolutely nothing to harden the grid, or to have back up equipment ready in case it’s needed…………………………
    greedy fat bastards sucking on the tit of profit, with not a jot of regard to something they have known about for years………………and yet they have all the money in the world to forcibly shove Smart Meters down out throats………………..
    time to kick the fat pigs out of office and take back our power, me thinks. :cool:

  • worldordernews

    oh no october 1st!! everyone run for cover!!! oh it didnt happen? Nov 14th!!! everyone run for cover!!!! oh didnt happen? December 21!!! everyone run for cover!!!!!

    • TwelveStrand85

      yuppp yupp until you least expect it

  • Melburly

    Ok, so on this so-called “drill”, what about all the people on life support in hospitals? I know there are many reasons why this is not a good idea, but that one is up on the list. Seriously, why endanger people for a drill?!! Or am I missing more of the details on how this will work? :roll:

  • lostpuppy

    Yes, the NAU is in full swing, power grid test? Sure

    Gov. Want to test the private grid that hasn’t been in any update status…ever, not talking computers…talking lines and supply, want to throw a curve ball at the power companies that have charged out the ars for their supply….but won’t updated the system put into place a century ago?! Same with water…watch , water test will be next.

    Here’s what I’m confused about…

    Power companies aren’t on the http://WWW….they have pages, but no account access to the grid, soma physical attack is the only way an attack can happen…IED…lol, man is that an over used term….it’s only improvised because a government didnt make it.

    The nuclear reactors use diesel generators to cool facility when there is no power……nuclear power…can’t function without power???.?.?.?.? Are there no electric generators that can utilize the power already being generated?

    EMP? Well if the sun has its way with our little planet….well, that’s news the gov. Put millions of dollars into research … Nice of them to have their own contingency plan so they can stay in power as their country burns from fallout from not having a cooling generator to cool rods burning through the earth.

    How exactly are we working with Mexico and Canada in case of power failure? Three old countries having their own source for power for over a hundred years, are collaborating on terror attacks and the best way the people of government can survive?

    Why can’t our elected reps just tell us the truth? Are they more adult then the rest of us? Is that how the term mother Russia came to pass? Are we in the mist of mother America …protecting us because we can’t protect ourselves from the atrocities being carried out in our name, for the meme of freedom?!

    If that is more accurate then not…why would they want to destroy the second amendment?

    To many people in the world…it unsustainable ?? Maybe we should be looking into colonizing space for the virus that is human plaguing this world.

    Scare the people…save the people…worshiped by the people… Is this you?

  • Anonymous

    Hope for the best – prepare for the worst.
    It would be wise to stock up on batteries, candles, canned food, etc. They always come in handy.

  • Angeleyes05

    When I went to their site, it said there would be no *real* blackouts.

  • worried

    who is going to replace all the food that will be lost and whats going to happen to people who are on life support at home did they think about that?

  • Mike

    The companies participating in this drill VOLUNTEERED for this. People at home on life support, hospitals, other life-critical facilities did not volunteer, so they won’t be affected. No one’s food is at risk.

    The companies that volunteered may or may not shut down their own electricity. If the do turn it off, it will be at their own local site. It’s even possible that power to a whole street might be turned off, but this will be because everybody on the street agreed to participate or have been given advance notice to be prepared.

    From the NY Times article:

    “Most of the participants will join the exercise from their workplaces, with NERC, in Washington, announcing successive failures. One example, organizers say, is a substation break-in that officials initially think is an attempt to steal copper. But instead, the intruder uses a USB drive to upload a virus into a computer network.”

    Think about that for a minute – How could they simulate a computer virus attack if the power is off?

    Doing these drills will help us gain valuable knowledge and experience to be applied in case of a real emergency.

    The average citizen will never even know this drill happened until they see it on the TV news. Nothing to worry about. November 14/15 will be just like any other day (God willing of course).

  • Anonymous

    I am one of the Utility Workers. I operate one of the generation stations. Name and location i will leave undisclosed. The statements of us training for blackout scenarios in the past month are true. We have been vigorously training for these events.

    The stranger part of all of this is, we never were told WHY we were training to handle a national blackout. This is what worries me. As 98% of the public DOES NOT know, the government plans to shut down over 100,000 Megawatts of energy production in 2015 because of environmental issues. The problem that the country faces is that on the summers hottest days, we already have brownouts, and shortages of water supply in some areas. These are facts. So what happens when we take away all this power?

    We depend harshly on the sun to shine, and the wind to blow. If these two things don’t happen when we want them to happen, then the next time you walk over to turn the :idea: on, you might be surprised to see nothing happens. Our power supply VS demand in the country is terrifyingly close to each other. We run on electricity, so you would think this should be the one thing we always have extra of. Well, the government doesn’t see it that way.

    Another disturbing, but TRUE, fact I have learned over my many years of working in my industry is that IF there were to be a national electrical grid blackout, it would NOT be an easy fix. Power surges would literally explode transformers at substations, as the power in capacity for the transformer would be exceeded 3 fold. Extensive damage to the grid would be of nothing ever seen in history. Chances of starting back up a plant, and re-energizing a portion of the grid would be the same as buying 1 power-ball ticket when the jackpot is 600 Million, and hitting it! Basically, ZIP…

    So whats next? Well we cannot manufacture these parts in America, due to no power. We then turn to other countries for help. We as luck would have it, our stupid decision as a country to send our materials overseas to be assembled very cheap by underage factory workers has turned against us. We have no fuel to freight the materials to the coast to be exported. No gas pumps… remember, no electric :cool: . SO you see this is just the tip of the iceberg, just sit down, and write a list of everything we COULD NOT do as a country in a blackout scenario.

    Then, sit down and make a separate list of what other countries abroad would be disabled upon, if we lost all ability to import/export. WOW, now compare them.

    Finally, if you forgot to put this on your list, this is your reminder….. WALL STREET!! Imagine a USA without the stock market for a minimum of 6 months, up to 2 years…. One Answer comes to mind.
    Worldwide Economic Collapse in the likes never seen before in history. Cash would be useless. A gallon of gas would cost $600, a bottle of water $250, and so on. Once the merchants figure out the system is gone, if they haven’t been looted and have some merchandise left, a gallon of gas could cost your gun & 1000 rounds of ammo.

    Long story short, we wouldn’t be prepping for this, if we did not a nation wide black out was inevitable. So take my advice, and prepare yourself to live without power for an EXTENDED period of time.

    Signing Off….

  • Josey Wales

    :eek: :idea: :shock: :cool:

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