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Shockproof your electrical utility security

By The Fulcrum Team
May 12, 2023

It is more important than ever for electrical utilities to ensure the safety and security of their facilities from threats and attacks from trespassers, tampering, and saboteurs. Join us as we discuss how field inspection management software helps utilities keep their facilities safe and secure from physical threats.

Physical threats against electrical utilities

The US grid has experienced a rise in physical attacks in recent years, ranging from vandalism, theft, and trespassing to more serious incidents such as arson, gunfire, sabotage, and threats to employees and contractors.

According to a report by the Department of Energy, there was a 77 percent increase in physical attacks against the U.S. Energy Grid in 2022. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security found that the energy sector is the most frequently targeted critical infrastructure sector for physical attacks.

Many of these incidents involved unauthorized access to facilities and equipment, indicating a need for stronger physical security measures and more regular inspections.

In recent years, several high-profile attacks against electrical utilities have served as a reminder of the importance of securing electrical facilities against physical threats: In 2022 alone, extremist groups attacked power grid electrical substations in Oregon, Washington and North Carolina, the latter of which left 40,000 people without power.

These alarming statistics and incidents underscore the importance of electrical utilities protecting facilities from physical threats.

The potential damage of physical threats

Following an attack, even if there is only a small likelihood of a wide-ranging and long-lasting outage, their potential damage can be significant and costly. For example, a sole perpetrator destroyed transformers at the Metcalf Transmission Substation in California in a 2013 attack that resulted in $15 million worth of damage to the grid.

Cost estimates of a potential major physical attack on the electrical grid – including direct damage to assets and critical infrastructure, the decline in sales revenue to electricity supply companies, loss of sales revenue for businesses, and disruption to the supply chain – range from $243 billion to $1 trillion, depending on the extent of the damage and the length of the power outage.

In addition to the immediacy of power outages, damage to infrastructure, and potential harm to workers and the public, physical attacks can have longer-term negative effects, including the loss of public trust and confidence in the utility and a range of liability issues that significantly impact bottom lines.


Danger sign in front of high voltage electrical infrastructure - Shockproof your electrical utility security with field inspection management software

How field inspection management software can help

Ensuring the safety of facilities from physical threats requires regular inspections and maintenance to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Field inspection management software helps to ensure that these inspections are easily and quickly performed, uniform in scope, data-rich, and accurate.

To start, frequent inspections ensure security measures are in place and functioning effectively, so if problems arise, they’re noticed early for quick remediation. In addition, leading inspection software like Fulcrum facilitates community-wide issue reporting through QR codes, allowing anyone who notices a security breach to sound the alarm.

Field inspection management software also helps utilities collect more data points about security measures. And with data collected in real-time on cloud-connected devices, managers can quickly assign field teams for investigation and remediation. For example, if a fencing barrier fails at a particular location, managers can assign follow-up tasks to identify the cause and swiftly fix the issue.

Further, field inspection management software supplies utilities with essential data on the effectiveness of their security measures. By capturing a range of data – from initial inspections through remediation – managers can discern which security measures work and which require improvement, guiding them to more informed decisions about enhancing security. If a steel mesh panel around an electric transmission tower is consistently reported as being damaged, for example, managers may deem it necessary to upgrade to a more secure concrete wall or palisade. The data collected from each interaction with any security measure offers nearly instant insights to support smarter decision-making.

Quick and efficient issue identification and resolution through a robust, real-time, and community-wide inspection process can mitigate security vulnerabilities from physical attacks and their costly damages.

Keeping the lights on

The substantial impact of physical attacks on electrical infrastructure underscores the critical importance of maintaining a secure and reliable grid. With the increase in physical threats against electrical utilities, it’s essential to ensure that facilities and equipment are safe, secure, and subject to regular inspections and maintenance.

Fulcrum’s leading field inspection management software offers a vital, all-in-one solution to enhance physical security. With customizable inspection checklists, real-time data capture, and valuable insights always at hand, Fulcrum can help you implement a more robust inspection process that specifically targets security vulnerabilities and protective measures.

By facilitating frequent inspections, pinpointing and resolving security issues before they escalate, and streamlining issue reporting and remediation, Fulcrum is the digital lock that secures facilities against physical threats, minimizes the risk of devastating attacks, and maintains smooth operations.

Power up your inspection system and request a demo of Fulcrum’s field inspection management software today.