Massive Drill Planned to Test Resiliency of U.S. Electric Grid

A massive exercise is planned for November that aims to test the resiliency of the U.S. power grid to withstand major damage caused by a natural disaster or deliberate attack, the New York Times reported.

Thousands of people are preparing for the drill, including U.S, Mexican and Canadian government officials. They are joining business leaders, U.S. National Guard officers, counterterrorism specialists and utility personnel to tee up the exercise, which will imitate kinetic strikes and computer assaults that could shut down large swaths of the electrical network.

In excess of 150 entities have agreed to take part in the simulated event, called "GridEx 2."

Fears about the possible detonation of a nuclear warhead in the skies above the United States, for the purposes of creating an electromagnetic pulse aimed at sizzling electronics on the ground, have led a number of public figures to call for significant steps to strengthen the power grid. Ex-CIA head R. James Woolsey is planning a campaign to convince state governments to pass laws requiring utilities to harden their electronics against potential EMP attacks.

A key objective of GridEx 2 is to learn how governments would handle a loss of electrical power that is large enough to drastically affect the delivery of common and essential goods and services.

Government and utility companies have discussed in recent years how challenging it can be to protect the power grid, which is involved in nearly all aspects of modern life. It is managed in large part by a patchwork of regional and city authorities and privately owned firms.

Some utility-sector officials blame the government for not sharing intelligence about threats to the power grid. In response, government leaders have recommended that some utility heads apply for security clearances that would allow them access to classified information.