Quelle: Wall Street Journal

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism. In April 2013 a Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country’s Power Grid

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley.

„What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid,“ he said. „This is a huge problem.“

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

The attack was „the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred“ in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

He feared the incident could have been a dress rehearsal for a larger event.

Transmission substations are critical links in the grid. They make it possible for electricity to move long distances, and serve as hubs for intersecting power lines.

The country’s roughly 2,000 very large transformers are expensive to build, often costing millions of dollars each, and hard to replace. Each is custom made and weighs up to 500,000 pounds, and „I can only build 10 units a month,“ said Dennis Blake, general manager of Pennsylvania Transformer in Pittsburgh, one of seven U.S. manufacturers. The utility industry keeps some spares on hand.

A 2009 Energy Department report said that „physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale…could result in prolonged outages, as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.“

Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.

„A lot of people in the electric industry have been distracted by cybersecurity threats,“ said Stephen Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, which runs much of the high-voltage transmission system for the utilities. He said that physical attacks pose a „big, if not bigger“ menace.

Kommentar

Man kann nicht verrückt genug denken … auch ein solches Szenario kann ein großräumiges Blackout verursachen. Dabei müsste durch die Störung/Zerstörung der Infrastruktur möglicherweise auch mit einem längeren Ausfall gerechnet werden.

Was kann man dagegen tun?

In der derzeitigen Struktur und Systemgestaltung kaum etwas. Eine sabotagesichere Absicherung ist wohl nicht finanzierbar. Aber auch hier gilt, dass durch eine entsprechende Systemgestaltung und Reichweitenbegrenzung = dezentrale Strukturen der Schaden wesentlich begrenzt werden könnte. Daher ist ein Umbau des Stromversorgungssystems nicht nur aufgrund der volatilen Erzeugung angebracht, sondern auch, um die Robustheit dieser überlebenswichtigen Infrastruktur deutlich zu erhöhen. Das derzeitige System ist weit fragiler, als den meisten von uns Bewusst ist (siehe auch Netzwerke gefährdeter als gedacht)