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(The New York Times)   "The electrical grid is vulnerable to power shutdown", says the NYT, adding that "water levels are vulnerable to drought"   (bits.blogs.nytimes.com) divider line 22
    More: Obvious  
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374 clicks; posted to Geek » on 19 Oct 2013 at 11:46 AM (25 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-10-19 10:28:57 AM
Well, I guess old news is still relevant. That there are flaws in SCADA systems has been known for a long time. That there are security flaws has been known since the 1990's.
BTW, your blog sucks. Mr. Peterson is introduced in the article paragraphs before we know why we should care who he is.
 
2013-10-19 10:37:09 AM
Oh, yeah? Well Canada's power grid is vulnerable to John Candy.
 
2013-10-19 10:43:59 AM
Thanks, Obama!
 
2013-10-19 10:53:38 AM

T-Servo: Thanks, Obama!


Actually, thanks Reagan and deregulation. Yay!
 
2013-10-19 11:04:17 AM

simplicimus: T-Servo: Thanks, Obama!

Actually, thanks Reagan and deregulation. Yay!


I was joking. I've worked with people in this admin who know these problens well, and the White House at least did some work on energy resilience as part of the stimulus package, but some people in Congress think investing in infrastructure is communism.
 
2013-10-19 11:12:08 AM
CSB

Back in the late 90's I worked for a large router manufacturer.
One of our customers was CAL-ISO, (The industry consortium that runs the grid).
We were there to sell them some firewalls for the network that connects up all of the power companies in CA.

I asked what kind of firewalls they were currently using and they said "... uh.. none."
Access-control lists? "Nope."
Somewhat horrified I said "Well, at least the control systems aren't directly connected to this network.... it's just billing and stuff isn't it?

"Uh... yeah.. about that...."
/CSB
 
2013-10-19 11:34:22 AM
Growing up in Vegas in the 70s and 80a, day-long power outages were kinda the norm.
 
2013-10-19 11:42:24 AM
I was working for a major electric company mid 80' to mid 90's. Before deregulation, we overbuilt transmission lines and generation, because we had a guaranteed ROI. After deregulation, we built nothing, cut back on plant maintenance and concentrated on delivering value to the stockholders. All in all, not a good approach to delivering a necessary product.
 
2013-10-19 12:12:00 PM

simplicimus: I was working for a major electric company mid 80' to mid 90's. Before deregulation, we overbuilt transmission lines and generation, because we had a guaranteed ROI. After deregulation, we built nothing, cut back on plant maintenance and concentrated on delivering value to the stockholders. All in all, not a good approach to delivering a necessary product.


No, there is no "after deregulation" in the electric industry.  This isn't the airlines.  If the electric industry were deregulated then commercial and industrial companies wouldn't be subsidizing the power to your mom's basement.  The problem with infrastructure build out and maintenance has to do with the inability of utilities to get a decent rate case while being pushed more and more on expensive alternatives which has forced utilities to go from an O&M 50 year replacement cycle to 100 years to "fix it when it breaks."
 
2013-10-19 12:24:38 PM
Re: the headline rather than the article...

An offline power grid can't just have a switch turned on to bring it back online after an outage. It's not the fuse box/circuit breaker in your house (though even in that case, it's still a good idea to turn off items plugged into the circuits). Just like the federal budget isn't the same things as a household budget, a large scale electrical grid isn't the same thing as the electrical system in your house/mobile home/parents' basement.
 
2013-10-19 12:32:39 PM

Mr. Eugenides: simplicimus: I was working for a major electric company mid 80' to mid 90's. Before deregulation, we overbuilt transmission lines and generation, because we had a guaranteed ROI. After deregulation, we built nothing, cut back on plant maintenance and concentrated on delivering value to the stockholders. All in all, not a good approach to delivering a necessary product.

No, there is no "after deregulation" in the electric industry.  This isn't the airlines.  If the electric industry were deregulated then commercial and industrial companies wouldn't be subsidizing the power to your mom's basement.  The problem with infrastructure build out and maintenance has to do with the inability of utilities to get a decent rate case while being pushed more and more on expensive alternatives which has forced utilities to go from an O&M 50 year replacement cycle to 100 years to "fix it when it breaks."


Commercial and Industrial customers pay less for power than consumers. because they are a reliable and predictable bulk user of electricity. They can pay even less than that rate if they classify themselves as "interruptible".
 
2013-10-19 12:48:28 PM

T-Servo: simplicimus: T-Servo: Thanks, Obama!

Actually, thanks Reagan and deregulation. Yay!

I was joking. I've worked with people in this admin who know these problens well, and the White House at least did some work on energy resilience as part of the stimulus package, but some people in Congress think investing in infrastructure is communism.


And some people in Congress think infrastructure is turtle crossings, urban riot control vehicles for towns of a few thousand people, bridges to wastelands, and new windows for shuttered visitors centers. Investment in infrastructure is great when it's used for things that are, well, useful, like fixing SCADA vulnerabilities.
 
2013-10-19 12:55:46 PM

T-Servo: simplicimus: T-Servo: Thanks, Obama!

Actually, thanks Reagan and deregulation. Yay!

I was joking. I've worked with people in this admin who know these problens well, and the White House at least did some work on energy resilience as part of the stimulus package, but some people in Congress think investing in infrastructure is communism.


Of course it is. Everything except tax cuts for the ultra rich is rank communism.

Let the poor starve, that's the American way. That's what Jesus taught.
 
2013-10-19 01:00:52 PM

simplicimus: Mr. Eugenides: simplicimus: I was working for a major electric company mid 80' to mid 90's. Before deregulation, we overbuilt transmission lines and generation, because we had a guaranteed ROI. After deregulation, we built nothing, cut back on plant maintenance and concentrated on delivering value to the stockholders. All in all, not a good approach to delivering a necessary product.

No, there is no "after deregulation" in the electric industry.  This isn't the airlines.  If the electric industry were deregulated then commercial and industrial companies wouldn't be subsidizing the power to your mom's basement.  The problem with infrastructure build out and maintenance has to do with the inability of utilities to get a decent rate case while being pushed more and more on expensive alternatives which has forced utilities to go from an O&M 50 year replacement cycle to 100 years to "fix it when it breaks."

Commercial and Industrial customers pay less for power than consumers. because they are a reliable and predictable bulk user of electricity. They can pay even less than that rate if they classify themselves as "interruptible".


Damn, sure would be nice to have that in Alberta.  Businesses pay the unregulated spot rate, while consumers pay regulated rates.
 
2013-10-19 01:35:59 PM
So let's send 1.6 billion to Pakistan and call it good.
 
2013-10-19 01:37:46 PM

jjorsett: T-Servo: simplicimus: T-Servo: Thanks, Obama!

Actually, thanks Reagan and deregulation. Yay!

I was joking. I've worked with people in this admin who know these problens well, and the White House at least did some work on energy resilience as part of the stimulus package, but some people in Congress think investing in infrastructure is communism.

And some people in Congress think infrastructure is turtle crossings, urban riot control vehicles for towns of a few thousand people, bridges to wastelands, and new windows for shuttered visitors centers. Investment in infrastructure is great when it's used for things that are, well, useful, like fixing SCADA vulnerabilities.


I like to think, that in some alternate reality Obama spent the first two years of his first term fighting for grid and other infrastructure improvements.

/Instead we get Heritage Foundation Care that was pulled even farther to the right.
 
2013-10-19 01:37:48 PM
but according to the show Alphas NY won't shut down totally thanks to an old mechanical generator hidden somewhere in the subway
 
2013-10-19 02:00:22 PM

make me some tea: Growing up in Vegas in the 70s and 80a, day-long power outages were kinda the norm.


Don't tell the electric car users. They believe that electricity is unlimited and has always been.
 
2013-10-19 06:26:38 PM
There is one simple reason why a terrorist wouldn't be able to access a remote substation to inject this malicious code: while the station is powered, entering the yard will kill you by electrocution. It is fenced off to keep people and critters from becoming part of the circuits. Don't believe me? Look at clearances for high voltage some time and know that even a remote substations have at least 35KV three phase coming in and step it down to 14KV or 7KV for line voltage. And as for larger stations or switching stations for supply lines, they run at 35KV, 66KV, and 110KV with some high as 235KV or higher. You go in one of the yards when it is energized and you will be luck if they find the ash pile.

As for the water stations, why interrupt one of those if you broke in when you could just as easily contaminate the water passing through it?
 
2013-10-19 07:13:28 PM
gozar_the_destroyer: As for the water stations, why interrupt one of those if you broke in when you could just as easily contaminate the water passing through it?

Because "interrupt" can be accomplished with a wrench (or a telnet session, apparently) while "contaminate" would require huge amounts of the contaminant and some sort of fitting/pumping/regulation system to get it into the water.

Plus contaminated water is still useful for many of the things a city needs -- like sanitation and cooling -- and can often be filtered or boiled to restore potability without significant infrastructure.
 
2013-10-20 12:00:09 AM

gozar_the_destroyer: There is one simple reason why a terrorist wouldn't be able to access a remote substation to inject this malicious code: while the station is powered, entering the yard will kill you by electrocution. It is fenced off to keep people and critters from becoming part of the circuits. Don't believe me? Look at clearances for high voltage some time and know that even a remote substations have at least 35KV three phase coming in and step it down to 14KV or 7KV for line voltage. And as for larger stations or switching stations for supply lines, they run at 35KV, 66KV, and 110KV with some high as 235KV or higher. You go in one of the yards when it is energized and you will be luck if they find the ash pile.


Damn, my brother in law the substation tech must die 3 or 4 times a week.
 
2013-10-20 01:02:25 AM
Just wait until November's "regular system test" plunges the northeast into an extended power outage, resulting in FEMA stepping in and taking control.

Oh, and the ensuing riots will probably not go over so well, either.
 
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