Electric Utility Infrastructure Vulnerabilities: Transformers, Towers, and Terrorism [April 9, 2004]   [open pdf - 688KB]

"The U.S. electric power system has historically operated at such a high level of reliability that any major outage, either caused by sabotage, weather, or operational errors, makes news headlines. The transmission system is extensive, consisting mainly of transformers, switches, transmission towers and lines, control centers, and computer controls. A spectrum of threats exists to the electric system ranging from weather-related to terrorist attacks, including physical attacks, as well as attacks on computer systems, or cyber attacks. The main risk from weather-related damage or a terrorist attack against the electric power industry is a widespread power outage that lasts for an extended period of time. […] Issues facing Congress include: What should be done to address vulnerabilities in the electric system? Who should be responsible for implementing appropriate actions? Who should pay? Should reliability guidelines or standards be implemented by the federal government or industry groups? And, who should be responsible for carrying out research and development to reduce vulnerabilities?"

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42795
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