Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military Security

Electronic Armageddon, and No Electricity Either 158

Posted by kdawson
from the life-under-a-faraday-cage dept.
Smart grid technology is a hot issue on Capitol Hill, but some are raising questions about the idea. In recent days we've discussed the smart grid's potential exposure to worm attacks, consumers' unreadiness for the idea, and whether the whole concept may need a rethink. A Congressional hearing on Thursday surfaced another reason for caution: the smart grid's vulnerability to EMP. "Electromagnetic Pulse" refers to the damage caused in electrical circuits and systems when a nuclear explosive goes off nearby. The electric grid as it's currently constituted is vulnerable to EMP; the further down the road we go towards a smart grid, the more vulnerable it will become. "It makes a great equalizer for small nations looking to stand up to military Goliaths, argues Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (Rep.-Md.), a former research scientist and engineer who has worked in the past on projects for NASA and the military. All one needs to wreak some serious EMP damage, he charges, is a sea-worthy steamer, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon. Then fling the device high into the air and detonate its warhead. Such a system might not paralyze the entire United States, he concedes. 'But you could shut down all of New England. And if you missed by 100 miles, it's as good as a bulls eye.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Electronic Armageddon, and No Electricity Either

Comments Filter:
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:42PM (#28820909) Homepage

    The utilities want the government to foot the bill for them to have modern telemetry as well as a bunch of routine maintenance type of stuff - old transformers rebuilt, etc - stuff that improves their old, core business. Stuff that they've been miserably slacking on for the last 20 years order to pocket more short term profits while their infrastructure rots.

    The Big Lie is that this modernization supposedly needs to be done in order for green energy technologies (eg grid interactive solar) to work, when in fact, nothing could be further than the truth. Grid-interactive systems actually RELIEVE load on the grid, and they do it especially at peak hours when AC loads kick in. And it works just great on the plain old dumb grid we have today. They might feel threatened because local generation obviously reduces the amount of energy sold, but it also makes that energy cheaper to sell and distribute because it smooths out the peak loads and reduces average current on long-distance transmission lines.

    But the power company has this line that it's making the grid "congested" as if the electrons are trying to go in **ZOMG!** both directions or something! It's a crock of shit - propaganda and political games to try and fleece us of money that should otherwise be spent on deploying modern technologies. Not saying the grid doesn't have its place, on the contrary: grid-interactive is a very elegant solution. But the supposed smart-grid is being pushed in a very underhanded way and it's not at all what people think it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not exactly. Pickens scrapped his windmill plans in texas (or some southern state) because theres no way to get the electricity produced to where its needed. Thus, a new grid is needed for green energy

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Pickens didn't really give a hoot about the electricity, he wanted the right of way for the power lines so that he could build a pipeline to get all the water he owns to the major metros where he wants to sell it. "Green Energy" was a screen.

        • It was both (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zogger (617870) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @05:11PM (#28821605) Homepage Journal

          He spent buzillions out of pocket to buy the windchargers, some non trivial amount. Yes, the water delivery right of way issue is also involved, but he also has the water that needs delivering some day.

              My guess is eventually they will relent when they really *need* the water in those metro regions, and it will just be more expensive then. His was a damn good idea, replace the natgas used for electricity plants with the wind power. The natgas then can be diverted and goes to fuel fleet vehicles, to keep the conversion costs down (all the same model, etc). The natgas is cheaper to run the vehicles on. Oil cash doesn't have to be exported out of the US so it saves on balance of payment issues. win/win/win/win overall.

              Ya, he stood to make some serious dollars on the deal, but so effin what?? Where's the beef there, you work for free or don't expect a return on a lot of investment? Bigass huge projects that succeed *tend to make some bigass dollars*. That's just reality, no different from anything else like that in our world.

              He's an old guy, been in the energy biz for a long time, and I saw his plan as something he really thought about, came up with a two birds with one stone deal that would work, FOUR birds really, and he wanted it for a legacy contribution as well. The latter is a guess but bet I am right on that one.

          Any random young guy can be scary smart, but it takes an older guy who started out scary smart to see all the angles, because you only get that with a ton of real world experience.

              He really does not "need" the money at his level and age. Like Gates going off developing medicine action for africa, something to do while you are already rich, and it is in his level of proven expertise.

              As to the water, the southwest is in for real long term drought according to the bulk of the climate guessers, while at the same time demands keep going up. We WILL be building more water transfer pipelines, either now while it is cheaper, or later on when it is way more expensive. No "ifs" about it at all, it is GOING to happen because it needs to happen.

              Running the new water pipelines from the same areas roughly where the new electricity (which we will also be needing shortly) will be coming from on the same right of way *made sense*. Doing it in two different right of ways at two different times when they start and stop at the same places roughly is way stupid and short sighted.

              Way stupid, and way shortsighted. Those boneheads jumped the shark by not doing it all now while materials are cheaper and there's a glut of non working unemployed construction labor out there. They got handed an incredible deal and blew it!

            I give the dude props, he has a logical and well thought out long view, not that lame "this quarter" view or "this election cycle" view that most businesses and politicians have and that we all suffer from constantly.

          • Ya, he stood to make some serious dollars on the deal, but so effin what??

            The problem is he stood to make serious dollars by fleecing the taxpayer - getting the government to underwrite his wind farms so he could lay claim to right-of-way for his power lines via eminent domain, and then use that right-of-way to move water. Shady at best, outright theft at worst.

            I give the dude props, he has a logical and well thought out long view

            That's the public image he's carefully cultivated. The truth

          • by geekoid (135745)

            No, it's a damn stupid idea, for amy=ny reasons.
            That land could produce more electricity, with lower maintenance costs and higher reliability with industrial solar thermal. Why would you use that land for wind when you can use it for base load power?

            But electricity isn't the issue, water is and he did it to get the Texas legislator to give him water rights.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chmcginn (201645)
        The OP isn't talking about massive wind or solar farms, but rather roof mounted 2 KW units or small neighborhood 10 KW windmills.
        • by solitas (916005)

          2KW roof-mounted solar arrays? Pretty big roofs, or impossibly-efficient arrays...

          • 2KW roof-mounted solar arrays? Pretty big roofs, or impossibly-efficient arrays...

            Noon sunlight is about 1 kilowatt per square meter, (100 watts/square foot)
            At 10% efficiency, that means 20 square meters (200 square feet), hardly "pretty big".

            • That's right. Now, if we could all live at noon time.. all the time, everything would work out.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        That's not really "a new grid" so much as "more of the old grid". Pickens didn't need some fancy computer-controlled smart grid; what he needed were some very long, old-fashioned distribution lines from middle-of-nowhere west Texas to areas where people actually live.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WaywardGeek (1480513)

        There is confusion (caused on purpose by the pro-oil community) about what we mean by "smart grid". We need a high voltage DC grid to transmit wind energy from the Rockies to New York. This isn't "smart", in fact, it's old dumb technology from the 70's that we've improved marginally. We need this grid so that we can plug any kind of energy generation into it from anywhere, without concern for where it's used. Discussions of a "smart" grid are about a whole other problem - that our current grid is way ou

        • by jeffstar (134407)

          HVDC is really the key to the smart grid I think.

          smart meters are going to make fuck all difference in demand response unless the price of power goes up by about 6x at peak times nobody can be bothered to change their habits. When I'm hot I would pay 10$ an hour to keep the AC on so if it costs 20 cents or a buck twenty i still am cranking that baby up.

          On the AC grid I don't think there is much control over where and how power flows - it takes the path of least resistance. power sold in michigan to new yor

          • by Svartalf (2997)

            Heh... The smart meters would help them make it easier to bill you.

            Now, if it was done in concert with some very, very clever things done at each residence with regards to heavy loads like HVAC systems and clothes washers and dryers, you could actually do something useful to adjust consumption (and in a way that nobody would ever really notice...).

            Having said this, that's not what "Phase 1" of the NIST spec talks to... It only talks about meters, taking better steps to secure things physically and over the

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noidentity (188756)

      But the power company has this line that it's making the grid "congested" as if the electrons are trying to go in **ZOMG!** both directions or something!

      At least for AC grids in the US, they do go both directions, 60 times every second.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      >>>The Big Lie is that this modernization supposedly needs to be done in order for green energy technologies (eg grid interactive solar) to work, when in fact, nothing could be further than the truth.
      >>>

      Well that's the first I ever heard of that. I was under the impression the purpose of a SmartGrid was to turn my home's heater on-and-off remotely. i.e. Centralized control of power demand.

      It seems to me the best investment would be a solution that requires NO heating. Like this one: htt [wikipedia.org]

      • "CFLs have a power factor of around 0.5, which means they use twice as much power as rated. For example a 15 watt CFL uses 15 watts in your home, but then it uses another 15 watts at the central power plant due to the need to "rebalance" the power and restore the PF to 1.0. TOTAL == 30 watts burned" Can you please elaborate on this point? I'm inclined to call bullshit if for no other reason than that 15 watts used at 110v looks the same regardless of the device using it but I'm willing to give you a chance
        • It's one of the funky qualities of AC [wikipedia.org].
        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          A power factor of 0.5 doesn't mean 30 W burned. It means 30 W transmitted across the wire, 15 W burned and 15 W returned to the producer. It means that the wires and transformers must be spec'd for 30 W and that some losses are relative to 30 W, not 15 W. But 15 W means 15 W, otherwise the power companies would be sure to charge you for 30.

        • I only learned of the Power Factor problem recently (via slashdot), so I'm far from an expert but I can provide a link to a good article: "Poor power factor causes inefficiency in the delivery of electricity to the end-user, requiring more energy to compensate for losses on the line. For example, a load with a power factor of 0.5 will require twice as much current as a load with a power factor of 1 for the same amount of usable power." Link - htthttp://www.edn.com/blog/1470000147/post/450043045.html

          You can

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jeffstar (134407)

          15 watts with a power factor of .5 does not mean 30 watts.

          it means 15 watts and 25.9 var.
          Q = P x (tan(arccos(pf))
          S = P +jQ
          so S = 15 +j 25.9 = 30 at 60 degrees kVA.

          15 watts at 110V with a power factor of 1, single phase
          P=IV*cos theta I=.136A

          15 watts at 110v with a power factor of .5, I = .27A but you are still only using 15 watts and you are still (as a residential customer) only billed for 15 watts.

          That's the deal with power factor; more current for the same power means the infrastructure has to be able to

          • >>>more current for the same power means the infrastructure has to be able to deliver the current required for the apparent power (S in kVA) and not just the real power (P in kW).
            >>>

            Therefore CFLs are not really giving us a 75% reduction in current draw.... more like 50-55%. Which is still good but even the newer incandescent bulbs can give a 50% reduction simply by using better filaments.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AdamHaun (43173)

          (I am an electrical engineer, although I don't work in power transmission)

          It's not bullshit. As others have said, it's not 30 watts burned, it's 30 watts transmitted. One way to understand this is to imagine what would happen if you hooked an ideal capacitor up to an AC power line. The alternating current would charge and discharge the capacitor, moving energy back and forth. This is called imaginary power. No energy is lost -- only resistive loads dissipate power. However, the capacitive load isn't free fo

          • by jeffstar (134407)

            Loads are also becoming more and more non linear and contributing to harmonics on the network further decreasing distribution efficiencies.

          • by sketerpot (454020)
            Don't most houses have some kind of inductive load running most of the time, like a fan or something? That could help balance the power factor if the light bulbs are capacitive.
      • I bought a $7 pack of a couple 100watt-equivalent GE CFLs several years ago and i've used them everywhere except my kitchen and they do just fine here in florida even with the humidity and heat of... florida... let alone the shower. They go on, they go off, it takes a couple seconds for them to get to full brightness but they're easily ~60watt incandescent brightness right when they turn on and I haven't replaced any of them in several years despite serious hard use. All of this is anecdotal though and thus

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Well I guess you've been lucky then. First I tried Lights of America bulbs, all of which died in my upside-down kitchen lights due to heat. Then I went back to incandescents. Then I found Philips bulbs in Walmart that I decided to try because they are a known-good brand. Well they did last longer, but it didn't take long for them to start flickering when lit and then die completely. I opened them up, and all the caps were leaking fluid - a sure sign of overheating from being placed upside-down. So I'

          • by compro01 (777531)

            You might look at some of GE's CFLs for your upsidedown stuff. One of them has a bulb-like housing on it and has been illuminating my basement stairs for 3 years so far without problem. The housing is nice as it works well with my bulb-changing stick, as the light is about 15 feet up, and above the middle of the stairs.

          • by Ant P. (974313)

            They won't work in upside-down fixtures

            What, really? I've had no problems with most of mine used that way, but there's one in my house that's burned through 3 fluorescents in about as many months, and I was convinced it was just a "bad wiring" problem or something. It's all the more confusing that my bathroom one isn't nearly as problematic...

      • by sjames (1099)

        You must be getting really crap CFLs! I have one upside down in my utility room (which is not air conditioned in the state of Georgia) and it's lasted years with regular use. It also gets humidity from the washing machine.

        I have them in my bathroom and one over the stove where things get quite hot and steamy regularly. It also gets little splatters of fry oil. That one is never turned off and it lasts over a year.

        They take about a minute to reach full brightness, but certainly they are immediately bright en

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        It seems to me the best investment would be a solution that requires NO heating. Like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passivhaus [wikipedia.org] - The government could have a program similar to what they are doing with old pollute-mobiles: Offer tax credits to "trade-in" your old inefficient house for a new passivhaus. If everyone converted, then residental power usage would drop somewhere around 75%. This image in particular shows how "leaky" an old home is compared to one of these newer homes: http://en.wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]

        • >>>-- Cooling, in the USA, is a bigger consumer of electricity than heating
          >>>-- Most heating is via other sources, oil, natural gas, propane, even wood. Many electrical heating systems are already supply controlled. Heating a house via electricity is expensive, getting the kwh at ~half price is alluring.
          >>>

          First off, the goal is not just electricity reduction, but also carbon output reduction. As the engineer at my local college observed, "The best way to save energy is to not b

          • by Firethorn (177587)

            First off, the goal is not just electricity reduction, but also carbon output reduction. As the engineer at my local college observed, "The best way to save energy is to not burn it in the first place." A PassivHaus reaches for that goal but being virtually airtight, and not allowing the heat to escape.

            In order to get people to switch, you have to make it make economical sense; not everybody is motivated to reduce carbon emissions, heck, the minority of the world is interested in reducing their own personal emissions; they're rather make nebulous 'others' do it. Even those that are are only willing pay varying amounts of economic penalties for doing it.

            A PassivHaus doesn't need air conditioning either, since the mass of the house keeps the heat *outside* the building. It's somewhat similar to how a basement remains cool even when it's 90 degrees outside. All you need is a fan or ventitlation system to keep the inhabitants comfortable.

            My house doesn't have AC at all. Hard to beat that. Oh, and if your measure of 'cool' is 90 degrees outside, what about when it's 110-120? Looking at t

    • Stuff that they've been miserably slacking on for the last 20 years order to pocket more short term profits while their infrastructure rots.

      The only thing the power companies have been slacking on is building power stations, due to economic and regulatory factors that are only partially in their control. Old transformers don't need to be "rebuilt" -- they require almost no maintenance and have life expectancies of decades. The technology for those hasn't changed in a hundred years. Power lines likewise have a low maintenance cost and the technology hasn't changed. Modernization for them has largely been adding power meters that "phone home" wir

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        You screwup the hookups, or the power feed isn't phased correctly, and your whole neighborhood goes dark because of your home improvement project.

        Actually, one of the interesting properties of AC is that mechanical generation equipment will automagically synchronize. If you're out of phase with the power company, your tiny generation equipment will be forced into phase and the power company's equipment won't even notice it. The worst that could happen is you completely destroy your generation equipment because it can't handle the stress of being slammed into phase with their generators.

      • "The Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant [wikipedia.org], by comparison, manages 1,096MW output. For ONE of its reactors. Do you seriously think they feel threatened by the solar cells on your roof?"

        Sure a stand alone solar farm cannot compete with a reactor but we were not talking about stand alone solar farms. The roofs of Germany [guardian.co.uk] pump over a GW of excess back onto the grid. If the electric companies in the US don't feel threatened by every rooftop in the land generating solar power then why do they obj
        • Sure a stand alone solar farm cannot compete with a reactor but we were not talking about stand alone solar farms. The roofs of Germany pump over a GW of excess back onto the grid. If the electric companies in the US don't feel threatened by every rooftop in the land generating solar power then why do they object to the idea of feedback tarrifs?

          82 million people's roofs, and between all of them they only manage a single GW of power. Lame.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:47PM (#28820943)

    In the documentary film Escape from LA, Snake Plisskin (who I thought was taller) shuts down the entire world with an EMP allowing Latin American countries to invade the US.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @04:20PM (#28821193)

      I heard he was dead.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Actually he first shut down the ships the South Americans were using with the "Sword of Damocles" weapon, thus leaving them trapped on the high seas. And then he pushed the button that fired the weapon over the ENTIRE PLANET. Which is why the presidents daughter, who is about to be electrocuted for stealing the weapon in the first place says "I can't believe he really did it. He shut down the earth."

      So while you had the right idea, you had the wrong scale. Snake shut down all the world to give a giant fin

  • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@gmail.cGINSBERGom minus poet> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:47PM (#28820945) Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_bomb [wikipedia.org] It's scary brilliant how they convert explosive energy to electromagnetic. It's also far easier to build than any nuclear device.

  • At least that's what some say. I wouldn't rule out hack attacks (both foreign or domestic) either. EMP [wikipedia.org]
  • An even easier hack (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@gmail.cGINSBERGom minus poet> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:50PM (#28820977) Journal

    Carbon dust, preferably something that drifts easily, probably something on a nanoscale like carbon nanotubes. That will damage all kinds of electronics. Many Air Force military communications and computer facilities near flight lines have vents to cut off outside air. They're used mostly for when a plane crashes and burns though it can afford minimal protection against NBC's.

  • Yeah because a sea worthy steamer, scud missile launcher and crude nuclear weapon are so easy to come by. Not saying the smart grid doesn't have other problems but it is far from easy to do serious EMP damage.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by budgenator (254554)

      Yeah because a sea worthy steamer, scud missile launcher and crude nuclear weapon are so easy to come by. Not saying the smart grid doesn't have other problems but it is far from easy to do serious EMP damage.

      Well at least on purpose, all you really need is one good sized CME, Coronal mass ejection, [wikipedia.org] which happen about every 50 years so we're due for one. Of course about every 500 years we get a big one, one that will make the Amish look high-tech afterwards, the last one was in1859;

      The solar superstorm of 1859 was the fiercest ever recorded. Auroras filled the sky as far south as the Caribbean, magnetic compasses went haywire and telegraph systems failed. ...

      During solar storms, entirely new problems arise. Larg

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      The ship, or boat, is no problem at all. A tugboat and a garbage scow will accomodate a scud missile - you don't need anything massively huge, like the USS Enterprise. Some private yachts are big enough for the purposes being discussed here. Stability isn't a big issue here, where the goal is to lob a package somewhere/anywhere near a city. Of course, a larger, more stable weapons platform would be desirable, but people work with what is available.

      The launcher isn't that big a deal. Iraq has a surplus a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        I recall that there were some briefcase nukes that came up missing in the old Soviet Union.

        You mean you recall hearing one of the myths about there being suitcase nukes. (read truth here)

        The key flaw in the mythology is the "minor" flaw that fissionable material in a device that small would decompose in a matter of months. Even if there were such devices, their warheads would now be all but useless.

      • by Alioth (221270)

        The smallest nuke that was in production was the US 'Davey Crockett'. Not exactly a briefcase nuke, either - it'd take two guys to carry the warhead.

        Furthermore, you can't launch a "crude nuke" from a scud. One really obvious attribute about crude nukes is that they are HEAVY. A crude nuke is the Hiroshima style gun-type weapon, and a B29 could barely lift it. A Scud has no chance. It would actually need an advanced, well engineered nuke.

  • I remember reading this prophecy in Patch Tuesday School when I was a child:

    Longhorn 6:8 -

    "I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Bill, and Balmer was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by acquisition, lock-in and proprietary-standards, and by the wild clippies of the earth."

    It always freaked me out that this might come to pass.

  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:59PM (#28821047) Homepage Journal

    All one needs to wreak some serious EMP damage, he charges, is a sea-worthy steamer, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon

    I'd imagine a lot of Evil Plans have that one basic requirement.

    • All one needs to wreak some serious EMP damage, he charges, is a sea-worthy steamer, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon

      I'd imagine a lot of Evil Plans have that one basic requirement.

      Most likely. I find it hard to panic about any evil attack plan when step 1 is "Have the ability to wipe a major city off the map." If you can do that one, you'll probably just wipe a major city off the map, rather than attempt to jury-rig your city-wiping technology to do something else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Clearly you're not an evil genius. The best way for one to demonstrate ones genius is to have an overly complex and convoluted scheme to get what you could've gotten 6 scenes ago via a simple handgun.
      • Sure, that's what you'd do.
        You should also notice "wiping a city, not even a major one, off a map" was not a requirement.

        It would take a 10 kiloton bomb air burst to damage electronics coast to coast.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_bomb [wikipedia.org]

        Expect that the bad guys will have something smaller than 10 kilotons, maybe like the 2.4 kiloton one the North Koreans tested in May.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_North_Korean_nuclear_test [wikipedia.org]

        If a 1 kiloton nuke were blown up in Central Park the 450 ft blast wou

    • You gotta have a crude nuclear weapon. A polite one simply won't do.

  • El Reg piece (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cally (10873) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:59PM (#28821051) Homepage
    El Reg [theregister.co.uk] got this one about right. ( Do check the comments though.)
  • This why I, Senator John W. Dismal of the State of Confusion, am sponsoring the Amish Computing Initiative Bill which seeks to establish funding for non-electronic computing using bovine technology. I've been told we can achieve 100 Mega cow-flops per second with massive parallel-processing grain-fed logic mechanisms, called 'herds'. Those crazy wonderful inventive Amish in my district. In addition, the computers can provide some mighty fine ice cream. America does not have to be dependent on a grid that
    • Another possibility: Swine Flu will kill 50% of the American population, and energy scarcity or pollution will be a thing of the past. Virtually overnight our energy usage & greenhouse gas would drop by half.

      In other words, overpopulation is our primary pollution problem.

  • It's not hugely surprising to me that there might be issues with a more complex grid, as with a more complex anything, even short of vulnerability to an EMP attack. If there are automated systems, that's automated systems that could fail, or could operate in unintended ways. There's just more stuff that has to go right; more control systems that must be robust under various conditions; more dynamical-system states that need to be understood and designed for.

    What is surprising to me is that I can't actually

    • by jeffstar (134407)

      smart grid:
      has load response (your dishwasher/hotwater/dryer runs when power becomes cheaper)
      this requires comms from a central authority to your meter to your appliance. as a side benefit (and the main reason for making it happen) the utility can remotely read the meter, and disconnect for non payment or when you move in move out etc

      has digital relays instead of electromechanical.

      might have more HVDC. this could help with controlling power flows. smart grid might have to deal with less stable sources of p

  • Traditionally, we've only worried about the chaos that would be caused by blackouts -- failures on the electricity supply side; and about attacks on the grid via hacking or things like EMP.

    However, we are distributing more and more intelligence to households. Countless billions of intelligent devices exist and they are increasingly networked.

    The metaphor for reliability of electric supply is "keeping the lights on" so consider the vulnerability of billions and billions of intelligent light bulbs (Why

  • ... my netbook inside my tinfoil hat. bah! this will show them
  • Let's not do anything then 'cus somebody may decide to break it.

    What a pathetic world view.

    Who the hell cares if the grid is down, the EMP pulse will have fried all electronics in the area anyway.

  • The scenario suggested is stupid and unrealistic: if you're gonna hit a nation with an EMP nuke, exactly what are ya gonna do when the effect wears off, hmmmm? You'd better be equipped to INVADE on the heels of that EMP blast, otherwise you'll still be toast soon enough.

    Are you listening, Lichtenstein?

    • The scenario suggested is stupid and unrealistic: if you're gonna hit a nation with an EMP nuke, exactly what are ya gonna do when the effect wears off, hmmmm? You'd better be equipped to INVADE on the heels of that EMP blast, otherwise you'll still be toast soon enough.

      Are you listening, Lichtenstein?

      Yeah, someone is about as likely to do that as they would be to use fuel-filled planes to destroy the biggest buildings in New York and THEN have no follow-through.

      • by macraig (621737)

        Those scenarios aren't at all the same: the goal in your scenario is to kill people, period, end of story, while in TFA's it's to disable infrastructure, which is only useful if it's a prelude to something else that does kill (or enslave?) people.

        Since TFA's theorized scenario requires an ICBM at a minimum for delivery, how do you suppose a terrorist group will ever develop the economy or infrastructure of its own to build such a thing? Even if they could afford it, I doubt that an ICBM could go missing wi

        • Since TFA's theorized scenario requires an ICBM at a minimum for delivery, how do you suppose a terrorist group will ever develop the economy or infrastructure of its own to build such a thing? Even if they could afford it, I doubt that an ICBM could go missing without someone noticing. Further, an incoming ICBM would be noticed and tracked in the moments before it triggered, so we would still at least know its point of origin. If the origin was a sub, well, again, what terrorist group has that kind of infrastructure? If it was launched from the ground, we'd know exactly where to strike when the shock and awe was over.

          TFA, and the fucking summary, talk of launching a scud from a boat.

          But you managed to totally talk about intercontinental missiles for a whole paragraph! You must be the star of your special needs class.

  • by aero6dof (415422)

    I can see that individual smart grid components may be more vulnerable to EMP, but overall shouldn't a smart grid be more resistant to having nodes removed from it? Our current grid doesn't deal with imbalances very well - often causing outages in areas which could technically get power, but where it can't be delivered because of archaic grid deisgn. Remember the Northeast blackout in 2003 [wikipedia.org]? I'm thinking that an EMP may physically damage our current grid technology less, but the effect across the system w

  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:14PM (#28822097)

    Forget the E bomb... How about we get a couple of guys with a pickup and a couple of hundred bucks of steel pipe from Home Depot... they drive around flinging the pipes into transformer substations....

    "Security" is a lie. There's always a way around whatever protections you can put in place, and the false protection is often extremely expensive while the workaround is usually cheap.

    Security Theater at it's finest...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arthurpaliden (939626)
      Get some medical isotopes. Spread them around the downtown core. Tell the press that you have laced the area with dirty radioactivity and they, the press, will do the rest.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PvtVoid (1252388)

      Forget the E bomb... How about we get a couple of guys with a pickup and a couple of hundred bucks of steel pipe from Home Depot... they drive around flinging the pipes into transformer substations....

      Try some mylar balloons [buffalonews.com].

  • I think that is wonderful. The first time the grid fails, everyone will run out and start buying their own solar panels, wind generators, and other independent power sources.

  • I am sorry. How the hell did this even come up? If someone decides to explode and EMP over a smart grid, how is this any worse than they did it over a regular grid? Everything is fried anyway. We are chip based society, and very little of it is not vulnerable to EMP or solar flares.

    By the way, I would be far more concerned with what a solar flare would do than a man made EMP. We have actually had these in our life time, and will have more.

    What is the likly hood of this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagne [wikipedia.org]

  • I actually worked with nascent smart grid technologies in the late 1990s. We wrote energy monitoring software for mid-size and larger enterprises. They have time of use rates and so understanding how to do peak shaving was very beneficial to them and they would wind up investing considerably to bring their demand down. These systems are usually pairs with SCADA systems that intimately wire up their processes and with all of that comes a certain amount of redundancy. The thing is though, if the control systems were to go offline, they could certainly still continue.

    The question is put, do you need to have telemetry on residences? I would say the answer is no. Well in the late 1990s a load recorder by itself would set you back about a $1000 and then you needed either a network jack and a phone line to talk. I would be shocked if the same hardware could not be put together for a fraction of that, and I'd bet that a utility could get a smart meter at the residence for not that expensive in hardware cost. The real cost is the labor of the electrician to install it. This is a skilled job and its going to take some money to pay some guy to be out there for an afternoon wiring up a load recorder at your house. Then from there, the load recorder would have to attach to your communications infrastructure, and what might that be? Well, it could piggy back your internet by being its own wireless, it could plug into your POTS, it could have its own cell line (and boy that would drive costs up). The central software to manage all of that is there.

    And so, after the utility spends millions of bucks installing all these meters on residences, what will they find? They already -KNOW- that the number 1 predictor of consumer electrical demand is the degree day. Seriously, go have a look at the temperature curve for the last 90 days, and compare that to the spot energy price for the last 90 days. They are going to be almost identically the same shape...

    One has to wonder, if there is not a simpler way to get consumers to peak shave. Perhaps the easiest thing might be to have a collective energy bonus. Basically, if the utility does not have to fire up its oil units on it a hot day, and can avoid running spinning reserves, there's a certain amount of give back they can profitably put on the table to get people to not use so much power. So what they could do during summer months is basically calculate a collective credit, where, if a region meets a certain usage reduction goal, everyone gets some amount of credit back on their bill. From there consumers could, instead of spending energy dollars on metering, could spend things on actually valuable peak shaving products, which no doubt the utility and its local energy services partners would be more than happy to sell, to make this an economical deal for everyone. With a collective energy bonus, you get most of the benefits of a peak shaved grid, but without having to actually build one.

    • Have you ever yanked an electric meter? I have. It takes all of 30 seconds. Step 1 : Cut the seal Step 2 : loosen a set screw Step 3 : pull the meter Electric meters pull out and plug back in just like a giant plug. It would not take long to swap in a smart meter. And the meter could communicate back to the power substation using the same wire it is connected to - the power line. Already a technique in common use.
      • by tjstork (137384)

        Have you ever yanked an electric meter? I have. It takes all of 30 seconds. S

        You have to get there. It used to cost a couple of hundred bucks to get a guy out to put a load recorder out there... granted this was in the late 1990s but we even had this program called MV90 whose job it was to go and read all the meters by literally driving a bank of modems and calling them one after an another..

  • All one needs to wreak some serious EMP damage, he charges, is a sea-worthy steamer, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon. Then fling the device high into the air and detonate its warhead.

    Really? Who knew a NUCLEAR WEAPON DETONATION could have adverse effects on our infrastructure.

  • The military has all sorts of EMP-hardened stuff, and has had it deployed since Cold War days. Sure the transmission lines complicate things, but in that respect, and with proper hardening, a smart grid need be no more vulnerable than the current dumb grid. Harder, in fact, because the current dumb grid had no hardening in mind whatsoever. We don't need a smart grid to be dropped dead by EMP, our current grid will fill the bill just fine, thank you.

    We just need to set the right standards.

    As for hacking,

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

Working...