Blackout


WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. “There are intrusions, and they are growing,” the former official said, referring to electrical systems. “There were a lot last year.”

Via Wall Street Journal.  Seems like an awful lot of time and money invested in disrupting our electrical supply when we are more than capable of doing that ourselves.  On a regular basis.

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A smothering heat wave shattered records for electricity use across a wide swath of the country yesterday as utilities and government officials called for conservation and braced for even more strain on the power grid today.

Power systems held up well despite worries about overloaded plants, transformers or lines. But utility executives warned that the risk of breakdowns rises steadily as a heat wave wears on, and with todays temperatures expected to top yesterdays, with possible record highs along the East Coast, power companies were girding for a huge challenge. 

Three independent system operators, agencies that manage regional grids for New York, the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, set record highs for electricity demand yesterday, breaking records set just two weeks ago. New England was just shy of a record. 

Experts say demand is rising faster than the ability to meet it, which over the long run could pose the risk of both local and regional failures.

Full article here.  The good news about having a blackout is that we won’t have to watch while the Middle East goes up in smoke.  You should always try to look on the bright side of these things.

NEW YORK – A group of political leaders urged Gov. George Pataki on Sunday to designate a section of the city suffering from a prolonged power failure a disaster area, making it eligible for federal aid.

“Anywhere else it would be,” Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., said at a news conference in the borough of Queens, which officials often complain is overlooked. “If this were an area of 100,000 people in upstate New York, the governor would have declared it a disaster area.

Service to an estimated 25,000 customers failed during the heat wave last week. Figuring an average of four people to a household, officials estimated about 100,000 people were affected.

As of Sunday, Consolidated Edison workers, reinforced by workers from other states, had restored power for about 13,000 households, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Full piece here.  OK, go ahead and have your little disaster.  It’s just that, with tsunamis and missiles and killer storms and terrorist bombs on commuter trains, this little ol’ blackout seems a little tame by comparison.  Still, with Con Ed claiming not to know why the power’s gone or how long it will take to fix it, there is an air of the “inexplicable natural force” to this little episode.