ELECTRICAL SUBSTATION SECURITY
Six Primary Protective Measures of Substation Physical Security
Monitoring & Surveillance
THE CRITICAL NATURE OF PROPER SUBSTATION SECURITY
There are over 79,000 transmission substations in the United States and attacks on these substations could result in severe outages or damage to the electrical grid.
There has been an increase in reports of physical attacks on electric substations. Some incidents have resulted in thousands of customer outages. Recent attacks include:
Attacks at several substations located in the Pacific Northwest during November 2022 resulted in customer outages and damage to substation equipment.
On December 3, 2022, a physical attack on two substations in Moore County, North Carolina caused severe damage to the facilities. According to an energy provider, the ballistic attack resulted in approximately 45,000 outages.
Federal authorities have also disrupted recent planned attacks before they were perpetrated.
Substation Security Elements
Control Center: If the substation is large enough to have a control center, all entrances should be electronically monitored and where possible, covered by closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. All doors should be metal and fitted with an intrusion detection system (IDS); any windows should be covered with metal bars and shatter-resistant film.
Control Cabinet: For smaller substations with no control house and fitted with a control cabinet mounted with the substation yard, all control cabinets should ideally be fitted with IDS, monitored by CCTV, and be ballistic resistant.
Monitoring & Surveillance
CCTV: Ensure CCTV covers the control house or control cabinet as well as access points to include vehicle gates and the entire perimeter of the substation. The CCTV feed should be recorded to enable better post-incident forensics.
Security Monitoring: Ensure security, operations, or maintenance personnel check substations—including small distribution substations— on a regular basis, and possibly on a varied timetable, so that attackers cannot take advantage of a predictable schedule. Regular site visits, along with a generally well-maintained substation site (both inside and outside the fenceline), are important deterrents.
Physical Access Control
Physical Security Control: Methods to control, monitor, and log physical access:
Controlling physical access via card keys, special locks, or other authentication devices.
Monitoring physical access via alarm systems or human observation of access points.
Logging physical access via computerized logging, video recording, or manual logging.
Vehicle Access Control
Gate Control: Utilize tamper-resistant locking devices that require credentialing to open and close.
License Plate Recognition AI: Entrances equipped with license plate recognition security cameras add a layer of protection that is verifyable and auditable.
Ballistic Shielding: Shield or obscure the line of sight to protect critical components.
Facility Lighting: Lighting must be sufficient enough for either human or camera to detect and recognize intrusion.
Perimeter Cameras and Motion Sensors: Choose all-weather commercial grade cameras for night vision, thermal detection, and/or ballistic resistant. Some sensors can detect gunshots/explosions.
Develop security procedures regarding communication, maintenance and testing, and Federal regulations. These include written internal and external notifications and procedures for security events, proper methods of documentation, and communicating with recording law enforcement response times.
Regular maintenance ensures security equipment is functioning with issues handled promptly.
Hover over the substation map to learn more information.
GenX Security can provide options for positive access control, monitoring of facilities, and delay/deter features that could be employed to mitigate the threats faced by electrical substations. Consequences of security breaches include the possible damage or destruction of substation components resulting in service outages, as well as cross-sector impacts to other supported and supporting critical infrastructure sectors.
COMMON ATTACKS & INSTRUSIONS ON SUBSTATIONS
Vandalism, theft, & sabotage
Suspected suspicious behavior
Vehicle ramming attacks
Unmanned aircraft systems/drones
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SUBSTATION SECURITY CATEGORIES OFFERED AT GENX SECURITY
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