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LADWP Under Federal Security Investigation After Electri...

LADWP Under Federal Security Investigation After Electrical Grid Found Vulnerable

The power grid is constantly providing electric power to millions of suburban homes and businesses everywhere in Los Angeles. Many residents take this for granted though, remaining completely unaware of it until a blackout occurs. The city of Los Angeles is very dependent on electric power for both daily use and extensive operations. As electricity plays an

Street Light, Los Angeles, California, United States

The power grid is constantly providing electric power to millions of suburban homes and businesses everywhere in Los Angeles. Many residents take this for granted though, remaining completely unaware of it until a blackout occurs. The city of Los Angeles is very dependent on electric power for both daily use and extensive operations. As electricity plays an important role in the everyday lives of Los Angeles citizens, it is important to ensure that the power grid stays free of any defects that could lead to its malfunction. Having realized this, the Los Angeles City Council looks to implement large changes that will help to relieve power grid concerns. To make certain that the power grid remains in top shape, the city of Los Angeles has relied on a consulting firm to examine the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power every five years. In 2015, during a recent investigation by Navigant, security gaps emerged in the grid, forcing LA city officials to repair security gaps that could potentially cause major issues for 1.4 million electric customers in Los Angeles.

According to Navigant, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has yet to fix the security flaws in its power grid found in a 2001 inspection, adding to the additional flaws found in the 2015 report. Major concerns include the lack of surveillance cameras and security alarms, absence of concern over delivery trucks that could hide potential trespassers, and unkempt foliage, all of which could easily allow intruders to enter and sabotage the electric power. Although Navigant made recommendations for some fairly inexpensive fixes to help the LADWP improve their facility back in 2001, the recent investigation has confirmed that these issues have yet to be resolved due to no set process for security fixes and lack of liability. Even so, government officials maintain that the security of the power grid is to be held paramount, having released a statement that says they “ the security of our infrastructure very seriously and are continuously assessing and implementing new measures to protect our assets.”

Street Light, Los Angeles, California, United States

The delay in applying new security fixes can be traced back to the poor structure of management within the LADWP, as found by Navigant. The security division can direct the power managers; however, it is up to the power managers to decide what to do. In the end, the ineffective system of leadership at the LADWP is why the LA power grid is still susceptible to a physical attack, even after 15 years. Now, the department is currently in the process of going under a federal security review and revising any security measures that are deemed unsafe.

The reports taken in 2001 were after government officials decided to reevaluate the security of the electrical infrastructure in light of the Sept. 11 attacks. Damage to the power grid could be a great disturbance to the suburban areas of Los Angeles. The potential aftermath of a terrorist attack on the Los Angeles power grid could shut down transportation systems and businesses for a month, both of which are critical to the daily life and well-being of Los Angeles. Thousands of lives could be at stake if a successful terrorist attack against the power grid occurs. Thus, it is essential to keep the power grid free of vulnerability to protect the well-being of Los Angeles and keep it a safe place for its residents.

How well-protected is your local power grid? What has your city done to protect its electrical infrastructure? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Sophia Huynh. Data linked to sources.

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Sophia is an undergraduate student majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. From a young age, she's been fascinated in how structural engineering shapes Los Angeles' society and environment.

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