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Superstorm Sandy: Implications For Designing A PostCyber Attack Power Restoration System

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Technical Report

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The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Laurel United States

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Sophisticated cyber attacks on the electric grid will create power restoration challenges starkly different from those in Superstorm Sandy or other previous outages in the United States. Nevertheless, rather than build a separate restoration system for cyber events, electric utilities and their government partners should explore how they can leverage existing mutual assistance agreements and other mechanisms to meet the challenges of the cyber era. This study summarizes restoration challenges posed by Sandy and contrasts them with those that would be produced by a cyber attack on the grid. The study then examines the implications of these disparate challenges for the electricity industrys mutual assistance system and proposes potential steps to build an all-hazards system that can account for the unique problems that cyber attacks will create. The study also analyzes support missions that state and federal agencies might perform in response to requests for assistance from utilities and analyzes how to build a cyber response framework that can coordinate such requests. The study concludes by examining how utilities might prepare in advance for post-cyber attack opportunities to strengthen the architecture of the grid in ways that are not politically or economically feasible today.

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