Looking to build a safe and secure electrical framework? Take precautions, think proactively, and embrace an interconnected future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Redundancy, backup power, and failsafe mechanisms are mission critical.
  • Smart grids, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance the resiliency and security of electrical systems.
  • Collaboration between government, industry, and other stakeholders is necessary to address the complex challenges of protecting critical infrastructure.

Each part of an electrical system is important to other pieces’ operation. Everything must be designed well and protected carefully because electrical systems are the heart of critical infrastructure. Those operations make modern society possible by delivering power, heat, and water to communications and transportation.

Critical infrastructure protection can be daunting, particularly when rampant cybercrime, weather events, and Murphy’s Law can cripple essential equipment at the worst possible time. Don’t panic! This guide will explain how businesses can shield themselves against worst-case scenario.

Key considerations in designing and implementing local electrical systems

Sometimes central components in an electrical system break down due to power surges, flood damage, or other malfunctions. Sometimes they’re taken out of operation temporarily for maintenance or replacement. Any of those scenarios represent a potential break in operations; no business wants downtime that costs thousands of dollars per hour.

Whatever the reason for primary components becoming unavailable, there must be a secondary system (or more, if space and budget allow) that can perform the original’s function in the interim. These are your redundancies – also called failovers – and they’re essential to electrical system protection. Therefore, they must always operate independently on separate power supplies.

If redundancies are insurance for your primaries, then a commercial generator is insurance for your insurance. Installing a backup generator means your redundancies always have enough power to kick in, and all your critical loads represent electrically powered processes your business cannot do without.

It’s crucial to choose the right generator size to manage your infrastructure’s peak power needs. The base kilowatts required relate directly to your building’s square footage; add 25% to your peak power usage to compensate for rapid shifts in demand. These are just two of many factors involved in selecting the right generator.

Failsafes are another key part in electrical system protection. These pair with bypass switches to protect the system from failures caused by component breakdowns. The bypass switch is pinged at regular intervals to ensure the device it’s attached to is functioning. Failure to return that signal means the device isn’t reliable and must be bypassed, and the signal is sent elsewhere, and the secondary component assume primary’s systems role.

Smart grids, the IoT, and AI

Smart grids around the world are seeing continuing international investment to become the norm within the next couple of decades. Smart grids use more digital technology; sensors, hi-res cameras, and other automated monitoring devices keep infrastructure safer against catastrophic weather and manufactured threats like hackers and viruses.

The increasing likelihood that legacy grid frameworks will fail drives the adoption of smart grids. AI is an integral part of providing these key benefits:

  • Predictive analytics to study past failure patterns and create grid protection strategies based on historical data and up-to-the-minute information.
  • Quicker returns to operability after power interruptions.
  • Tower-mounted, AI-controlled robotics that actively protect transmission stations and substations through nonlethal means, especially in remote areas more vulnerable to natural and artificial damage and attack.
  • Stronger defenses against hacking threats and malware, particularly those targeting industrial control systems.

The IoT is composed of millions of devices like cameras, power monitors, and safety systems all wirelessly connected and helping with critical infrastructure protection from monitoring the temperature of data centers, to watching who gets in through the front gate. The IoT also ties directly into smart grids by providing:

  • Increased rates and speed of communication to identify and resolve the location of electrical events more swiftly.
  • Remote control activation/deactivation of devices.
  • Smart meters, millions of which are already connected to the grid, help limit energy theft and loss.
  • Better identification of systems lacking power that need to receive it.

Technologically advanced smart grids promise an electrical landscape where isolated incidents have less chance of failing system-wide, where communities could pool together their own electrical resources in a crisis, and much more. Check out SmartGrid.gov and the Department of Energy website for more information.

Cooperation is essential to electrical systems and infrastructure protection

Critical infrastructure protection is complicated due to national and global rapidly expanding power needs, and the ever-evolving technology being used to build them. The Smart Grid include millions of parts and pieces; cooperation on a massive scale is necessary to design, fund, and actualize the protection of national electrical systems to keep up with demand and tackle threats in the years ahead.

Governments, industrial stakeholders, and individual business owners must collaborate long-term to stay ahead of familiar and emerging electrical threats. Any party looking to take down an electrical grid won’t walk onsite and start flipping switches. It will all happen via remote digital infiltration. Individual locations must take active and ongoing steps to become NERC CIP compliant.

It’s a big part of electrical system protection through better cybersecurity. This compliance is as vital to a smart grid as any physical component, and it’s the responsibility of every business connected to America’s bulk electrical system (BES). Here’s the essential guide to what your business is expected to do under NERC CIP toward stronger critical infrastructure protection. 

UES can help you create robust electrical systems

Since 1999, our expert team has been helping Central Florida businesses of all kinds shape reliable power systems. Speak to us about your current electrical infrastructure. We’ll use our decades of experience to see where your current electrical systems are vulnerable. Just contact us with any questions or for a free quote!