Speaking before the House Science and Technology Committee, Granger Morgan highlighted actions that could make the nation’s electricity supply less vulnerable and more resilient, which could save lives.
He focused on strategies to avoid physical disruption of the power system; strategies to speed the process of repairing the system after physical disruption; and plans to assure that critical social services continue when electricity is not available.
Morgan noted several natural disasters that affected the power system, including hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and the 1998 ice store in Quebec. He also noted that the system is vulnerable to attackers.
“Of course, we can’t avoid hurricanes and ice storms, but we can make the high-voltage power system much more resilient,” he said.
Morgan said progress has been made to fortify the barriers and improve security surrounding large electricity substations, but more is needed. He also urged the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement a stockpile of emergency replacement transformers.
“Equally important, the nation should take steps to assure that critical social services can continue to operate when the power goes out, whatever the cause,” Morgan said.
He listed several continuity strategies, including LED traffic signals with solar cell and battery back-up so traffic does not limit the effectiveness of emergency vehicles; more systematic and reliable use of back-up generators; cellphone and other communication systems that will continue to operate for days, not hours; and greater use of smart meters and micro-grids to allow local islands of power to continue to support key services.
Watch Morgan’s testimony. (Morgan begins speaking at 1:00:07.)