The physical security of electrical substations is coming under increasing scrutiny. There are more than 60,000 utility sub transmission and distribution systems in the U.S. Since these facilities tend to be remote, they are vulnerable to vandalism, theft, terrorism, or other damage. The results of even one incident are costly, and not just in terms of equipment but also in public reputation or even human lives.
Most engineering teams are highly aware of the risks to the architecture that so many Americans rely on. If your responsibility is keeping these facilities secure, you have a lot of ground to cover.
When it comes to physical electrical substation security, one thing is clear: You must make effective use of all available tools, including technology, to protect your infrastructure. This blog will help you understand the risks and how video surveillance can help.
The Risks of Substation Physical Security
The power grid is critical to the functioning of our society. Almost everything we do today has some reliance on the nation’s power grid. Substations often have valuable metals and tools that make them a target for thieves. Copper and metal thieves view a substation as a potential gold mine.
Adding to the appeal, scrap metal is simple to sell and usually untraceable. Thieves add insult to injury by damaging fencing and equipment in the process of burglarizing the substation.
Any vandalism or damage could be catastrophic for an area. Even a car accident can take out the grid for thousands of people:
- A major PG&E transformer in California suffered a coordinated attack. Phone cables were cut and for nearly 20-minutes snipers systematically knocked out 17 large transformers that supplied power to Silicon Valley. The shooters have never been caught. It took 27 days to repair the damage. PG&E subsequently spent $100 million to harden their substation infrastructure.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) was left at a substation in Nogales, Arizona. The IED was placed next to a 50,000-gallon diesel tank. Fortunately, it didn’t go off.
- A high-powered rifle attack at a substation left 13,000 Utah residents without power.
More recently, even issues of cyberterrorism have made the news, as nation-states have attempted, sometimes successfully, to infiltrate digital security around our critical infrastructures.
All of these incidents illustrate a big issue that we must resolve. But how can we secure such a large and dispersed network of substations?
The answer is with intelligent placement and coordination of a sophisticated substation security system.
Making a Video Surveillance Substation Security Checklist
The physical security of the nation’s substations and electrical grid will take more than fencing. Building a resilient and redundant security plan does start with hardened barriers and access systems, true. But integrating video surveillance into the perimeter barrier as well as inside the substation is critical to mitigating the risks we face.
Today’s video security technologies can do more than alert you to a problem:
Pro-Vigil: Your Video Substation Security System
The physical security of our more than 60,000 electrical substations is imperative. These remote locations are subject to vandalism, theft, terrorism, or other damage. The results of even one incident could be catastrophic.
The research shows us that a properly designed video surveillance security system can deter crime. Pro-Vigil is the nation’s leading security expert helping keep the nation’s power grid substations safer. Talk with our team today to discuss your options