The National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) will establish a committee of about 18 individuals. The committee will consider approaches to reducing the vulnerability, enhancing the robustness, and improving the resilience and ability to recover of future electrical transmission and distribution (T&D) in the United States to potential terrorist attacks. The committee will use as a starting point the three recent reports addressing electric T&D in the nation, namely, the National Academies’ report Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism; the DOE report Grid 2030, A National Vision for Electricity Second 100 Years; and the EPRI report Electricity Sector Framework for the Future. The study will address technical, policy, and institutional factors that may affect the evolution of electrical T&D in the United States in the midterm (e.g., 3 to 10 years) and the long term (10 to 25 years). The committee will identify priority technology opportunities, R&D directions, policy and institutional actions, and strategies that will lead to more secure electrical T&D in the face of an uncertain future. The committee will write a report documenting its findings and recommendations. In particular, the committee will likely include the following in its activities:
(1) Examination of the current status of electricity T&D in the United States with the aim of identifying significant technological opportunities that can reduce vulnerability or enhance robustness to potential terrorist attack. The committee can draw on various recent studies (noted above) by DOE, EPRI, and the National Academies on electricity T&D in the United States, and also on other perspectives that may arrive at different conclusions than these studies.
(2) As part of its data-gathering activities, and in order to elicit a wide array of perspectives on how electric T&D and supply in the United States may evolve and the different approaches to reducing the impact of potential terrorist attacks, the committee will invite presentations from electric power industry groups, federal and state representatives, nonprofit groups, consumer groups, small companies, and others. The committee will review the various perspectives vis-à-vis the vision that has been laid out in the DOE and EPRI studies (noted above) as at least one point of reference. The committee will likely organize itself into working subgroups to entertain these presentations and promote discussion on selected issues, such as technology, policies, and institutional issues. The committee may also include a workshop(s) as part of its early data-gathering activities to help the committee focus on the priority issues and questions that need to be answered for its study.
(3) Given that the future evolution of electric T&D in the United States is uncertain, the committee may develop a range of scenarios, considering factors affecting future requirements for the nation’s T&D infrastructure, including the need for new capacity, replacement needs, siting issues, vulnerability to terrorism, and the effects of interconnectedness among regional networks.
(4) The committee will analyze the likely implications for the vulnerability, robustness, and recovery and resilience of electrical T&D to potential terrorist attacks in the midterm (3 to 10 years) as well as the long term (10 to 25 years) with an eye on science and technology investment.
(5) Analyze how existing and emerging technological options could improve the reliability, security, robustness, and the ability to recover from disruptions to the electrical T&D system, or systems, and prioritize technical opportunities and R&D needs.
(6) Recommend strategies for implementing the transition from the current situation to a future system that is less vulnerable to disruption from terrorist attack, considering primarily technical barriers.
(7) Write a final report documenting its findings and recommendations.
The National Research Council will issue a final report approximately 15 to 18 months from the time funds are received to initiate the study.