Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Electronic Armageddon, and No Electricity Either

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the life-under-a-faraday-cage dept.

The Military 158

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.'"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Smart Grid is a scam (5, Insightful) (463190) | about 5 years ago | (#28820909)

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:Smart Grid is a scam (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28820975)

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:Smart Grid is a scam (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821065)

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 (5, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | about 5 years ago | (#28821605)

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.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Interesting)

Chmcginn (201645) | about 5 years ago | (#28821083)

The OP isn't talking about massive wind or solar farms, but rather roof mounted 2 KW units or small neighborhood 10 KW windmills.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

solitas (916005) | about 5 years ago | (#28821627)

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

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | about 5 years ago | (#28821905)

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".

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28822021)

Two KW is about average. Rooftop solar panels at 200W are about 2 square meters each. So 2KW would require about 10 such panels. If you look at pictures of southwestern neighborhoods where they are employed, 10 panels is about average.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#28821101)

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:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 5 years ago | (#28822179)

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 out of date and needs a face-lift. So long as we get the HVDC grid, I'm happy.

The big-oil/RNC/neocons are using their time-proven strategy of re-labeling. By defining "smart grid" as something utilities and big-oil want, they can take over the push for the HVDC grid and instead create yet another huge give-away for huge corporations. It's just like when they redefined "network neutrality" as an evil plot [] by Silicon Valley to take your money.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

jeffstar (134407) | about 5 years ago | (#28822251)

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 york often flows through canada.

With a DC grid exactly how much real and reactive power flows can be totally digitally controlled by the firing times on the valves.

Converting portions of the grid from AC to DC would also be tremendously expensive so I don't see it happening any time soon.

Maybe new transmission lines will be DC, but I don't see many new transmission lines being built either.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 5 years ago | (#28822513)

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 network ("cyber"- and there IS a real cause for concern on that...), and the like.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 5 years ago | (#28822571)

Yes, the "smart grid" goals have been drafted by the utility industry [] . I'm ok with that, so long as it's not confused with the HVDC grid.

The problem is that people are attacking the HVDC grid, using valid concerns about the "smart" grid.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#28821177)

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:Smart Grid is a scam (0, Flamebait)

ehrichweiss (706417) | about 5 years ago | (#28821535)

Great, so even our electrons are fucking bisexual as well.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 5 years ago | (#28821721)

And the Europeans are saving even more energy by going only 50.

I can't drive...55

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28821733)

But - how did they TRAIN all those little electrons to do that? A flea circus must be easy by comparison!

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (3, Funny)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 5 years ago | (#28822059)

You mean the bastards are selling us the same electrons over and over again?

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821263)

This is drivel. Compared to killing thousands of people the temporary loss of electrical power is trivial. It is not uncommon for the electrical power to be out for weeks after ice storms in certain parts of the country and it is hardly a catastrophe.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#28821483)

>>>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: [] - 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: []

My own approach to energy savings, rather than use "smart" appliances, is simply to use the brain in my head. I turn-off the heat (or A/C) when I go to bed, heat my bathroom for my morning shower with a small portable, go off to work, and then turn the heat back-on when I get home. So instead of 24 hour heating (or cooling), I'm averaging just 5 hours a day.


A lot of people embrace Compact Flourescent Lights as if they are some magic cure to solve our future energy drought. But I have to disagree. I've been using CFL's for almost twenty years, and I've come to the conclusion that they are a worse idea that using Edison's incandescent lighting. Here's why:

- 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

- New technologies have allowed folks like GE to build 60 watt incandescants that only use 30 watts while still providing the same brightness. So the net usage is the same as the CFL described above. No need to abandon the old bulbs.

- CFLs *hate* heat. CFLs *hate* cold. CFLs *hate* humidity. CFLs *hate* dimmers. In practical terms this means CFLs can not be used in 80-90% of present fixtures. I used them in my upside-down kitchen lights - they died 2 months later. I used a CFL outside in my porch light - it worked fine until the temperature dropped below zero, and then refused to light. I used them in my bathroom, and after a couple showers the humidity killed half of them (the heat may also have been a factor). I bought a so-called "dimmable CFL" which died 5 minutes after I installed it in my living room dimmer switch. Instead of saving money, I'm wasting it on tons of dead CFLs.

- CFLs hate being turned on and off. Rapid cycling makes them die as quick as an incandescent bulb. So you've spent 5 times as much for a bulb than doesn't last any longer.

- CFLs have a warm-up time. Turn it on to read your paper, and you have to wait 3 minutes before you can see the writing. Turn it on to go down the basement stairs - and you can't see the steps because the bulb is still warming up (i.e too dim - a safety hazard).

I have about 20 CFLs in my home.
But I'm gradually phasing them out and
replacing them with 25 or 40 watt incandescents.

I tried to do my part to be green over the last two decades, but it's just not working. The CFLs are not the solution to reduced lighting expenses. Perhaps these new half-power incandescents from GE will provide an answer, or the new LED lights, but CFLs are not it.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | about 5 years ago | (#28821597)

"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 to explain yourself as maybe you were oversimplifying your point.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 years ago | (#28821767)

It's one of the funky qualities of AC [] .

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 5 years ago | (#28821943)

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.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#28822139)

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 - htt

You can google for more articles.

Even if PF was not problem and CFLs only burned 15 watts as rated, I still think they are a bad idea for all the previous reasons discussed. I have too many spots in my house where the CFLs simply won't work, and I don't feel like buying all-new fixtures. Plus the "warm up time" is annoying as well.

And finally the savings are so small. I usually only have one light burning at a time. So that's 45 watts saved (versus the old bulb) times 5 hours a day times 30 days == ~7 kWh or ~about 60 cents saved in my house. Big whoop.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Informative)

jeffstar (134407) | about 5 years ago | (#28822149)

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 deliver the current required for the apparent power (S in kVA) and not just the real power (P in kW).

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Informative)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 5 years ago | (#28822755)

(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 for two reasons:

1. The transmission infrastructure still has to handle the current, which means you need bigger transformers and stuff.
2. The circuit isn't really ideal. Some energy is lost due to resistance in the lines, etc.

Power factor is a way of measuring how much of your power usage is resistive vs. capacitive or inductive. Heavy powers users like industrial facilities are charged for their power factor. Homes are not. The GP's concern is that if the whole country switches over to using CFLs we'll need more grid capacity to handle the difference in power factor.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

jeffstar (134407) | about 5 years ago | (#28822893)

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

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 5 years ago | (#28821691)

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 unreliable.

Which leaves just the power factor argument, and I'll leave that to someone that knows more about electricity than I do. What I will say is that I STILL call bullshit on these mythical super-efficient incandescent bulbs that no grocery or home improvement store in the central florida area seems to carry.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#28822299)

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'm back to the incandescents.

It seems the ONLY fixture where CFLs will work for me is a well-ventilated lampshade-type lamp. They won't work in upside-down fixtures, high-humidity areas like my bathroom, or outside in the cold porch light (they don't die; they just refuse to ignite).

If you think I'm lying (or that my problems are unique), then take a look at google: [] ----- As for the "mythical half-power incandescents" you could have looked that up on wikipedia instead of calling bullshit. Or you could google it. Or you could read this article: []

Here's another technique that reduces incandescent power to 70% (i.e. a 42 watt Edison bulb can produce the same light as a 60) - []

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 5 years ago | (#28823519)

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.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

sjames (1099) | about 5 years ago | (#28823051)

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 enough to be safe. I have ONE (different brand) that is quite dim when it's first turned on. It went in the porch light and I won't buy that brand again.

It's not as if I have specially imported super CFLs, I just get whatever is a good price at the time. All have much improved their spectrum in the last few years.

I haven't tried dimmable CFLs, so I can't really comment on that.

Note that a power factor of 0.5 does NOT mean it uses 15W and another 15 disperses as heat. It means 30W worth of current flows in the wiring. It does mean the transmission losses between it and the nearest reactive load are doubled (which is bad enough), but even with that it's still doing better than the 30W bulb even if there is no reactive load at all between it and the power plant (extremely doubtful). Power factor can also be corrected with an inductor.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#28821551)

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" wirelessly or via a POTs line, removing the need for meter readers. That really is their biggest project, and it pays for itself quickly -- they're not slouching here to get "more profits".

The Big Lie is that this modernization supposedly needs to be done in order for green energy technologies (eg grid interactive solar) to work,

It's not a lie. If you're interfacing to the grid, they need to have a way to measure how much current you're putting on the wire, when, where, and be able to turn it off and on remotely, just like any other power station. And there are no regulations for how to do this in many municipalities. You think the cost they're talking about is the hardware? Silly you. It's the administrative costs.

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.

Dude. power generation [] in just my state was 66*10^9 kWh in 2005, and represented a mere 1.8% of the total US consumption. The largest operating solar power plant in the world [] and manages a mere 60MW output, and takes up 25 hectacres of space. The Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant [] , 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?

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!

Actually, it's more like they don't want a bunch of DIY greenies hooking equipment up to the grid incorrectly and causing problems that are difficult to trace and would likely be blamed on them, rather than the homeowner. You screwup the hookups, or the power feed isn't phased correctly, and your whole neighborhood goes dark because of your home improvement project.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821795)

Transformer technology has changed much in the last 100 years because of alloys and construction improvements, .peaking in the 1960s and 1970s. After 30 years, transformer efficiency begins to plummet, replacing those 30 years and older is a major concern of energy savings in Europe, the US and Japan, would save 75 to 90% of the losses.

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#28822781)

... Would save 75 to 90% of the losses.

And the losses vary from 3-7% overall between the best and worst. -_-

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 5 years ago | (#28822583)

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.

Right ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821921)

Yeah, my computers and electricity ... that's what i'm gonna be worried about when see nuclear fireball going off five miles away. "But how will I toast bread now?" ... freaking sheople ...

Re:Smart Grid is a scam (1)

Strake (982081) | about 5 years ago | (#28822807)

as if the electrons are trying to go in **ZOMG!** both directions or something!

Gasp! Edison surely rolls in his grave. Knights of Direct Current, Unite!

We need a continental-sized dome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28820939)

I think we've all known this since the "peace shield" days.

A sensible dome, combined with the walls we are now building, will take care of a lot of this nonsense.

I say cut the local dome-building industry in on the stimulus and get this tasked over to the EPA double quick.

It's true, I saw a documentary (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's true, I saw a documentary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821095)

I don't know about the EMP thing, but latin Americans (wetbacks, spics, beaners, etc) are invading the US.

Re:It's true, I saw a documentary (3, Funny)

Artifakt (700173) | about 5 years ago | (#28821193)

I heard he was dead.

Re:It's true, I saw a documentary (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#28821457)

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 finger to all the repressive government crap he has had to deal with. Good thing such a device doesn't exist, because there is no telling how many out there would actually push the button to get rid of all this Big Brother crap.

electromagnetic pulse bomb (4, Informative)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#28820945) [] It's scary brilliant how they convert explosive energy to electromagnetic. It's also far easier to build than any nuclear device.

Re:electromagnetic pulse bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821405)

From the wikipedia link...

Some makeshift Faraday cages have been suggested, such as aluminium foil or a closed and sealed ammo box.

Good news everyone!

An EMP weapon is the greater threat (1)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | about 5 years ago | (#28820959)

At least that's what some say. I wouldn't rule out hack attacks (both foreign or domestic) either. EMP []

Re:An EMP weapon is the greater threat (1)

Pool_Noodle (1373373) | about 5 years ago | (#28821435)

Never discount hacking attacks - Estonia '07 []

An even easier hack (2, Interesting)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#28820977)

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.

Wire we worried? (0)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 years ago | (#28820987)

This is shocking.

I didn't see watt the problem was before.

But if we are attacked empusively, we will be exposed.

Re:Wire we worried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821369)

Go back to Fark, noob.

Re:Wire we worried? (1)

Pool_Noodle (1373373) | about 5 years ago | (#28821375)


Re:Wire we worried? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 years ago | (#28822351)


I feel like I got my share of old vegetables thrown today.

All one needs... (1)

basementman (1475159) | about 5 years ago | (#28820991)

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:All one needs... (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | about 5 years ago | (#28821471)

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, [] 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. Large transformers are electrically grounded to Earth and thus susceptible to damage caused by geomagnetically induced direct current (DC). The DC flows up the transformer ground wires and can lead to temperature spikes of 200 degrees Celsius or higher in the transformer windings, causing coolant to vaporize and literally frying the transformer. Even if transformers avoid this fate, the induced current can cause their magnetic cores to saturate during one half of the alternating-current power cycle, distorting the 50- or 60-hertz waveforms. Some of the power is diverted to frequencies that electrical equipment cannot filter out. Instead of humming at a pure pitch, transformers would begin to chatter and screech. Because a magnetic storm affects transformers all over the country, the condition can rapidly escalate to a network-wide collapse of voltage regulation. Grids operate so close to the margin of failure that it would not take much to push them over.

According to studies by John G. Kappenman of Metatech Corporation, the magnetic storm of May 15, 1921, would have caused a blackout affecting half of North America had it happened today. A much larger storm, like that of 1859, could bring down the entire grid. Other industrial countries are also vulnerable, but North America faces greater danger because of its proximity to the north magnetic pole. Because of the physical damage to transformers, full recovery and replacement of damaged components might take weeks or even months. Kappenman testified to Congress in 2003 that âoethe ability to provide meaningful emergency aid and response to an impacted population that may be in excess of 100 million people will be a difficult challenge.â

Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm []

Re:All one needs... (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28821867)

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 at the moment. The thing is only truck sized, weighs less than 20 tons, easily portable. The missile isn't hard to get, either.

The only real obstacle, is to get some weaponized fissionable material into a warhead that will fit on the scud, then control it. I recall that there were some briefcase nukes that came up missing in the old Soviet Union. Who has them? THAT is the scary part of this whole scenario - we don't know if the bad guys might have them.

Re:All one needs... (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 5 years ago | (#28822641)

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.

Re:All one needs... (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 5 years ago | (#28822653)

Fucked up the hyperlink above. (read truth here) []

Re:All one needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28822649)

No such thing as briefcase nukes .. Its a scare story put about and encouraged so we all stay scared and pliable for
every security law that comes along. If you have good quality source please enlighten.
If it can be done once it can be done again anyway.
Gedouda here you Dirty Bomb.

Talked about this in the 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821015)

I read about this exact senerio on back in early 2000's. Word was that a Russian general mentioned this specific attack vector to some American politicians (or something similar). They then went over how once the power gird is down it would take 18+ month to order the new power plants from Europe as we no longer build these things locally.

All one needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821031)

"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."

  All one needs to travel to another galaxy, he charges, is a space worthy steamer, $100,000,000,000 to develop an inertial damper, and a crude faster than light warpdrive.

Re:All one needs (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 years ago | (#28821521)

The difference being that sea-worthy steamers, scud-missile launchers and crude nuclear weapons are all existing technology.

Also, $100,000,000,000 for an inertial damper? Man, they're going cheap these days.

Electronic Armageddon? (1)

TimeTraveler1884 (832874) | about 5 years ago | (#28821035)

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.

oh is that all? (5, Funny)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#28821047)

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.

Re:oh is that all? (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 5 years ago | (#28821187)

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:oh is that all? (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28821257)

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.

Re:oh is that all? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 5 years ago | (#28821511)

Yes, but the true evil genius will not take out the electric grid by simply producing an EMP. He will send his atomic bomb into space, in order to change the track of some small asteroid, so it goes exactly into some critical part of the electric infrastructure.

Re:oh is that all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821823)

crude nukes would be more like a city block or two

a crude nuclear weapon (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 5 years ago | (#28822771)

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

El Reg piece (3, Insightful)

Cally (10873) | about 5 years ago | (#28821051)

El Reg [] got this one about right. ( Do check the comments though.)

EMP, Snowfall, Solar flare... (1)

thms (1339227) | about 5 years ago | (#28821139)

It is quite obvious how dependent civilization is on electricity, and most gov'ts give out the advice to be prepared for a few days or even weeks without electricity and other resulting amenities such as water and fresh food in the supermarket - but how many people actually follow up on that? Especially a big city in the middle of such a blackout would have serious problems with everything being just-in-time delivered.

Raising awareness and preparedness of such a SHTF scenario has a better ROI than pumping 1000x that money into a military project to defeat yet another hypothetical terrorist scare. And if I were a terrorist I'd certainly have other plans with even a halfway decent nuke on a boat than fire it into the sky.

Re:EMP, Snowfall, Solar flare... (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 5 years ago | (#28821595)

In a weird way, EMP attack sounds like a back-up plan some guy living under an active volcano would use if his main plan were thwarted. More realistically, I can it as something a well established nation state might consider, as in:

"We're at stage 5 of an escalating situation, leading towards what looks to be a possible all out nuclear war. If we use a nuke, but set it off in space and only knock out the enemy's civil power grid, is that something we can sell to the UN nations as a measured response that didn't push things closer to the big one?"

I get the feeling various First and Second world countries have spent a lot of effort analyzing whether an EMP nuke is better or worse strategically or geo-politically than using the same nuke otherwise, i.e. to kill an enemy aircraft carrier. It also sounds like what we sometimes call the third world nations haven't been thinking about such questions much, and if they get their first nuke, won't immediately know if this sort of attack has any value. They probably don't have any formal cost-benefit analysis on EMP attacks. Non-state sponsored terrorists have probably given this idea even less thought.

You also can't really just set off a nuke. If you do it, you've announced to the rest of the world that you probably have more than one, and the rest of the world starts interpreting everything in that light.
      Everyone decides you can't have been stupid enough to build just one and so you must be lying about having more. Also, the international community will probably assume, if somebody uses one for EMP, they are hoping the enemy won't use one back as a direct people killing weapon because 'that's escalation'. The recipient will count all the people who died indirectly (when they run the frozen traffic lights, starve outside the empty grocery stores, or their hospital can't keep their life support going), and argue that it's still a damned nuke, there are still mass civilian casualties, and by God a 20 megaton ground burst on somebody's capital is an appropriate and sane response, now bend over, here it comes. The UN may or may not bother to deplore it after the fact.

!News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821173)

These EMP-weapons have presumably been around since the cold war (You don't need a missile. A small plane would do fine for a suicide bomber). The threat of attack agianst the US has been around since it began to push it's proverbial nose into other countries affairs, by military means.

or you'd prob nuke NYC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821223)

If someone had all that, you think they'd just knock out the electricity??? If people want to take down the electric grid, they break into multiple large bottleneck electricity distribution points and mess stuff up, and get like 5 years in jail. If people want to kill almost everyone, poison everyone else, and destroy lots of stuff in one strike, they buy nukes. People don't target electric grids with nukes.

Alternative Computing Resistant to EMP (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 5 years ago | (#28821287)

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 may go down. We are also anticipating funding MIT to research hamster-powered PDAs. Some of the faculty have expressed unusual interest in gerbils, too. I say let them, but don't come crying to me if you end up in the emergency room with duct tape, professors. That's all the time I have to spare, I have to go pick up a bribe. Oops. I mean see a lobbyist.

Re:Alternative Computing Resistant to EMP (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 5 years ago | (#28821561)

Ever heard about the mad cow decease? You don't want your AI go mad!

Re:Alternative Computing Resistant to EMP (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#28821579)

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.

Let me explain what's going on here (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 5 years ago | (#28821297)

Rep. Bartlett read a book, and got a bug up his ass.

The book he read was: []

Literally, the book is about three nukes launched from ships at sea, on top of modified scuds. Same plot as this Representatives scary scenario.

Bruce Schneier calls this kind of thing the "Movie Plot Terrorist Threat."

BTW It's a decent book for a fun read. If you enjoy the end of the world aspect of a zombie film, you'll like "One Second After."

But it's fiction, and while the principle is interesting, it won't be the end of the world as we know it.

Re:Let me explain what's going on here (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | about 5 years ago | (#28823485)

Rep. Bartlett is from my district, and let me tell you, that guy is goddamn nuts.

surprised it's only come up now (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#28821355)

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 find a decent, even-handed overview of smart grids. You can have your choice of breathless "smart grid is THE FUTURE" books and articles. One book goes so far as to title itself Perfect Power: How the Microgrid Revolution Will Unleash Cleaner, Greener, More Abundant Energy [] . Yes, that's right, the new grid will provide perfect power, which will solve all our problems. Does anyone seriously believe there aren't pros and cons that at least deserve some consideration and design?

Of course, there are some academics who've written detailed journal articles, usually on some sub-aspect. But our public discourse seems to, at the moment, consist of a bunch of "the smart grid is the messiah" people on the one hand, and now "omg what about terrorism" on the other hand.

Re:surprised it's only come up now (1)

jeffstar (134407) | about 5 years ago | (#28822349)

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 power from renewables.

might have more embedded generation, generators within the distribution network as opposed to the transmission network. This generation is close to loads but requires updating of the distribution network to handle reversed power flows and increased complexity.

none of this stuff is really new...

Risks can shift (1)

anorlunda (311253) | about 5 years ago | (#28821361)

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 you would want your bulb to be intelligent and networked? I have no idea; its just a metaphor).

Here's the point, as the intelligence and communications become more distributed, they become more attractive to wannabe hackers and attackers. It could become equally attractive to attack the light bulbs as attacking the power grid.

Now consider how onerous it would be to consider such innocuous devices such as light bulbs to be critical infrastructure. Homeland security might need to require the same cyber security standards from every light bulb owner as they do from the utility and grid operators. Clearly, that won't work. Therefore, we may need to restrict the spread of distributed intelligence and communications in consumer level items as a defense.

Restricting technology would be highly offensive, but what's the alternative?

Where have I heard this idea before? Oh yes, Battlestar Galactica. Galactica restricted use of technology and especially networking to reduce vulnerabilty to Zylon attacks. Might life imitate SF yet again?

Local generation. (1)

eriks (31863) | about 5 years ago | (#28821403)

Any "Smart" Grid system needs to bring local generation strategies into the picture, where, for lack of a better term the grid is "segmented" so that if the main power supply for a region goes away, for whatever reason, local "segments" of the grid can still keep running on locally generated power, with reduced capacity, so that at least some buildings will still have power for emergency shelter, with functioning lighting, heat & communications.

Local generation could include wind, solar, battery banks, gas generators, and fuel cells and/or tiny natural gas plants, maybe even as individual units installed in residential homes or municipal buildings -- these could all be managed both during normal grid operation and when there is a large-scale outage.

This sounds like a no-brainer to me, but maybe there's some reason it's not practical, aside from cost, since I'm tired of hearing: "No we can't do that, even though it's a good idea" just because it's "too expensive". We created the idea of money thousands of years ago, and if it's preventing us from doing things that make sense now, maybe we should fucking get rid of it, or at least change the way we use it.

And if you're concerned about EMP attacks, I don't think there's any way that EMP could affect big honking knife switches, so make sure it has some of those to handle the segmentation. That would probably have some advantages for backup switching even for things other than EMP attacks, which (as others are saying) doesn't seem like a very efficient way to mess things up. There are better ways to create havoc.

And they laughed when I put ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 years ago | (#28821447)

... my netbook inside my tinfoil hat. bah! this will show them

Scared of shadows? (1)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | about 5 years ago | (#28821503)

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 suggested scenario is stupid! (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 years ago | (#28821583)

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?

One ice cube to warm them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28821607)

So, the state is controlling your indoor temperature. It's too cold in your house, make a tray to hold some ice near/above your thermostat, problem fixed. It's too hot in your house, place a hot shot glass under/near your thermostat, problem fixed.

You can manipulate your thermostat to your advantage. Unless the State places a camera on your thermostat, but them you can always put a picture in front of the lens.

Measure, counter measure.

P.S. I have a login somewhere. Not really an AC, just a lazy login looker or LLL.

FUD? (1)

aero6dof (415422) | about 5 years ago | (#28821687)

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 [] ? I'm thinking that an EMP may physically damage our current grid technology less, but the effect across the system would be more widespread and long lasting because of lack of flexibility in the current grid.

A crude nuclear system? (3, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 5 years ago | (#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:A crude nuclear system? (2, Interesting)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 5 years ago | (#28823071)

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:A crude nuclear system? (2, Interesting)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 5 years ago | (#28823415)

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 [] .

mod uP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28822103)

a relatively BSD fanatics? I've consistent with the for a moment and by simp7e fucking bombsheel hit I type this. driven out by the become an unwanted fucking confirmed:

Enviromentaly friendly (1)

cenc (1310167) | about 5 years ago | (#28822415)

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.

The big threat is Wall Street. (0)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#28822517)

What worries me is a truck-mounted EMP generator deployed in the Wall Street area.

In today's financial markets, if Wall Street went down for a week, when it came back up, New York would no longer be the center of the financial universe.

(Of course, that's going to happen anyway; a debtor nation can't control the world financial system for long. China is shortening the maturity on its 2.1 trillion in Treasury paper [] and starting to buy real assets, mostly natural resources. [] )

EMP threat with or without smart grid (1)

cenc (1310167) | about 5 years ago | (#28822553)

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: []
vs. []

This article is the definition of Asinine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28822593)

Right, because if a nuclear weapon goes off, our first worry is: How will this affect the smart grid?

Further, if someone has a nuclear weapon, their first thought isn't.. Hey, Lets bring down their Smart Grid!

Too far (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | about 5 years ago | (#28822617)

So, instead of the EMP only killing the electronics in the power plant, the electronics responsible for controlling the power distribution in switching stations and the electronics to be powered in your house... it ALSO kills your power meter?

That is one step too far!

already vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28822791)

The grid is already vulnerable to this type of attack. SCADA has been in production for years and an EMP would cause all of the relays, transformers and control stations, not to mention EMS and OMS ops control centers to be would take everything down.

Safe from Nuclear Weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28823243)

OMG! They are telling me that nuclear weapons can damage things??? I though they taught all those power grids how to duck and cover.

Boy that's just all sorts of wrong. (3, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28823483)

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.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>