Duke takes part in national power grid test

Duke takes part in national power grid test

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by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 8:52 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. is taking part in a nationwide test of the national power grid system over the next day-and-a-half.

The grid drill is designed to test the vulnerability of the system.  The fear is if the grid is crippled by a cyber attack, large portions of the country could be without power for days, weeks, or even longer.

The test is also being monitored at the UNC-Charlotte’s Smart Grid Laboratory, a unique $4.5 million facility designed to teach students about the nation’s power system.

Doctor Sukumar Kamalasadan, a professor in the lab, says ever since the great blackout of 2003 that left 50 million people in the northeast in the dark, efforts have been made to strengthen the grid.

“We have a lot of grid protection already built in so we have enough infrastructure to make sure that it is not going to jeopardize or cripple the entire power grid,” he said.

Kamalasadan says he does not believe there is a country or a group that has the expertise to cripple the grid -- at least not now.

“Not really, but we are actually trying to prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario,” he said.

There has been a flurry of posts on Twitter from people concerned the test itself could result in an outage.

Duke Energy spokesperson Paige Layne said, “There are not going to be any drill-related outages.”

Layne said Duke would take part in the drill.

She said it would mostly be a tabletop exercise where the company would test its response to the emergency scenario.

The nationwide test that ends tomorrow involves all the nation’s big power companies along with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

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