As Dr. Mike Wallace, director of Tulane School of Professional Advancement’s Emergency and Security Studies program, shares in his recent appearance on Doomsday Scenarios from America's Book of Secrets on The History Channel, “When you take power away...society will break down pretty quickly.”
Recent threats to the electrical grid have been localized and temporary, but as Dr. Wallace points out, prolonged lack of electricity can lead to a breakdown of society as we know it. Dr. Wallace heads a program at Tulane University's School of Professional advancement, which offers several emergency services higher education options, including more than one online emergency management degree. Many of the faculty who work with Dr. Wallace at SoPA come from professional careers in public safety, public health, and the military.
Due in part to distributed authority and varying degrees of regulation, the United States is likely more susceptible to threats on its various power grids than other nations.
Historical Threats and Real-world Disasters
While actual "attacks" are infrequent, natural disasters are demonstrating the need for disaster preparedness in response to power grid threats.
Cybersecurity experts warn that terrorism and state-sponsored resources are likely to continue to target the power grid.
In an April 2020 article on Power Technology, the author highlights five of the worst cyberattacks in recent history. According to the author, between 2010 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy reported 150 successful attacks on systems holding information on the electricity grids.
Direct physical attacks sometimes make it necessary to focus the disaster response in the real world, as in the multiple attacks on the Arkansas Power grid detailed in the 2014 NY Times article.