The Qualitative Implications of Grid Vulnerability

The security of the U.S. electric grid (and, indeed, the electric grid of most countries) has been the subject of much angst, study and debate. The events of September 11, 2001, as well as natural disasters along the east coast of the United States and the rolling blackout of 2003 have all led engineers, policy makers and utility executives to consider the many issues surrounding grid security.

In November, 2013, the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC), with the help of more than 200 industry and government organizations, conducted a two-day cyber and physical security exercise, called GridEx II. The exercise was designed to identify potential threats and weaknesses in the North American grid. NERC plans to post its findings by the end of the first quarter 2014.

Certainly a thorough understanding of the physical and cyber threats is a necessary – indeed essential – part of developing an effective plan for securing the grid. Yet, because the electric grid supports so much of the lifestyle to which Western nations have become accustomed, grid vulnerability has profound ramifications for our ability to function as a society. Therefore, it is imperative that we develop a comprehensive understanding of the long-term QUALITATIVE implications of a catastrophic grid failure.

STAR Group uses the Implications Wheel® to help clients thoroughly and systematically identify the myriad qualitative risks associated with a variety of scenarios. For example, working with futurist Joel Barker (the creator of the Implications Wheel), STAR Group developed an assessment of the multiple qualitative risks that would arise in the event of a Fukushima-type disaster in the United States.

If you are a utility executive, engineer or policy maker who would like to develop a more robust plan to deal with a significant failure of the electrical grid, we can help. Simply fill out the form on the right side of this page and we will schedule a brief, confidential demonstration of the Implications Wheel system.