National Power Grid

Making The American Grid Survivable In A Terrorist Attack

By John Tyreman, September 2017

Most, if not all, of the country's infrastructure depends on our National Power Grid working 24/7.  Unfortunately, the Grid is not sufficiently protected from various threats including terrorist attacks, hacking and routine failures from flooding and forest fires. Major failures of almost any kind would bring the majority of the country to its knees should the Grid be seriously disrupt. This is not acceptable and must be addressed immediately as a National Priority by Washington D.C.  

The solution to this concern is to update and modify the NATIONAL POWER GRID to new national standards that would protect it from failures of either internal components or attack by various means including EMP as threatened recently by North Korea.

The obvious problem most Americans are not aware of is there is little standardization in the Grid, few of its 55,000 transformers similar for replacement. If any fail, they must be individually rewound, which would take major amounts of time to repair and replace.  Thus the Grid would be down until replacement transformers could be provided.  This is a priority that must be addressed understanding that electricity is as important for our lifestyles today as water was 2,000 years ago.  

I believe the key to this is to renovate, modernize and revamp the entire grid using standardized transformers of identical functionality, i.e., identical input and output windings for each transformer.  Once a new standardized transformer plan is put in place and the transformers are produced, the grid could be renovated and rewired into a specific load plan using the new installed transformers. 

Yes, the loads will have to be reallocated in this process and the entire grid zoned.  Each zone would then maintain its load at a specific percentage level much less than the present 100 percentage that allows even a small failure to put the Grid in immediate danger of overload.

The goal would be to keep the average zone load at a reasonable level thus creating a reserve so each zone to the left and right of the failed one would have the spare capacity to shift power to the failed zone's working component load as necessary until such time the failed components of that zone are repaired or replaced. 

This reserve status would be dubbed Alternate Routing, a procedure to keep power to all but the elements those that have failed within the Grid's system. 

Thus in order to reconstitute the Grid and its components in a reasonable time period along with their related substations after an attack and resultant Grid failure, we must commit to a redesign of the primary operational methodology of the Grid and its components now. There is no time to waste, the clock ticking down to when an attack could actually happen be it in the Southwest or Northeast, Los Angeles or New York.

The primary step would be to standardize the transformers, as mentioned above, which would allow spare transformers TO BE BUILT NOW while the system is not under stress and store them around the country to be ready for unexpected failures (days vs months to even a year.)  Once the Grid is updated the concept of Alternate Routing would be integrated in the system with the goal of maintaining power to the majority of the Grid’s load during unexpected failures.

Alternate Routing is a methodology of resupplying power to the remaining good components of a failed zone within the Grid structure. Operating the grid under this system at a new lower load percentage will allow the routing of power to a failed zone using spare power from other zones to support the failed load. 

Once updating is completed, Alternate Routing may be used that will only require wire, switches and controls, to transfer power to the remaining good components of a failed zone as if in an open architecture where plug ins are welcomed for quick fixes. Eventually all this would be computer controlled with quasi automatic fixes for most failures. 

Using the identical transformers would allow for spare transformers to be built now and then stored around the country facilitating rapid repair of the Grid itself, Grid component failures, reducing repair time and power restoration from weeks or months to days or hours.  

Each new transformer would have at least two primary winding inputs available allowing for optional primary voltages on the Grid, thus allowing primary voltages to be raised as demand loads increase.   Secondary windings could also be made available as an option, thereby  controlling many load levels to improve reliability.

Other modifications would be to improve physical security at substations that would control defined area. Mandatory concrete walls would be built around all transformers that would protect them up to and above their isolators from snipers.  Other available EMP protection methods would be applied as appropriate to lines in and out of all substations.  

Physical security for each substation would be enhanced to include state of the art training. All information would be available at predetermined monitoring stations within the Continental United States, (CONUS), eventually monitoring and controlling the entire Grid and power load structure within the country.

Communication from the substation's monitoring system would be available to centralized management stations 24/7. Response programs and control managing teams would be capable of initiating Alternate Routing operations as necessary to support Grids zone failures throughout the entire Grid.  The Alternate Routing would be improved throughout the Grid as modernization takes place with a goal of eventually covering the entire grid and all infrastructure loads.

But this is only hopeful wishing as major weaknesses exist today within the current Grid. This primary infrastructure for power for the country must be addressed NOW with the Grid’s potential problems addressed and eliminated. 

Our survival as a nation in a world of sophisticated terrorist groups is at stake every day we wait. Protecting the Grid should be made an immediately priority.  Federal involvement and intervention are necessary to resolve this current national security issue that only grows as hacking software becomes more sophisticated and available to more who want to see America fall.

If you have questions or need more information on Alternate Routing, please email

Thank you.

John Tyreman
Retired: CIA/DDA/OC


"Freedom is Knowledge"