Landrieu, Murkowski call for IG to find source of grid vulnerability stories

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Landrieu, Murkowski call for IG to find source of grid vulnerability stories

The chair and the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday urged the Energy Department’s internal watchdog to investigate the publication of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission analysis that warned a coordinated attack on the electricity grid could cause massive blackouts.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month published details of an internal FERC analysis showing that disabling nine key transformers critical to the bulk power system could cut electricity from coast to coast. The story did not give locations, but described how different sets of nine large transformers, among 30 modeled by FERC, could cause similar blackouts.

Coal stockpiles offset growing electricity demand, higher gas prices

Electricity generators used more coal in the first half of 2013 compared to last the same period last year, but large stockpiles prevented price increases, the Energy Department said Friday.

Higher natural gas prices and greater electricity demand drove up coal consumption 13 percent during the first four months compared to a year earlier, the Energy Information Administration said, with that trend expected to extend through June. Weekly coal spot prices remained mostly flat, however, as utilities chose to use up existing inventories.

Some Maine towns in dark as election approaches

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Thousands of Maine voters — and possibly some polling places — are expected to be in the dark after a powerful storm knocked out electricity for more than 100,000 homes and businesses.

A storm Sunday lashed the state with 50 mph gusts of wind and dumped more than a foot of snow in places.

A Central Maine Power spokesman says there are no assurances that all polling places will have electricity on Election Day.

DOE IG scores FERC over grid vulnerability briefings

The Energy Department’s internal watchdog on Wednesday faulted the nation’s energy regulator for failing to consider the impact of sensitive grid vulnerability analyses on national security before giving briefings to federal agencies and industry.

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman’s report, dated Jan. 30, stems from news accounts early last year that revealed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff and the chairman in 2013 shared the unclassified analysis and scenarios, which indicated that the sabotage of a group of critical electricity substations could cause widespread blackouts.