Power plants are among the most highly protected private-sector facilities in the nation. An unsolved sniper attack in 2013 on an electrical power substation in California that knocked out 17 giant transformers has mobilized industry leaders to beef up physical security at these vital installations. The incident also has some experts worried that parts of the U.S. power grid are similarly vulnerable. On April 16, 2013, attackers cut fiber optic cables in an underground vault and then fired more than 100 rounds from at least two high-powered rifles on power transmission stations near San Jose, California.

Plants must be built with multiple security and defensive features. Because security threats are constantly evolving, Power Plants are constantly reassessing, refining and enhance the security programs at their facilities. They all are striving to have three security zones with increasing levels of physical security measures to prevent intruders from accessing the plant.

  • Owner-Controlled Area: A buffer zone surrounding the plant’s Protected Area, controlling access to the property.
  • Protected Area: Areas closer to the power plant have multiple physical barriers and state-of-the-art electronic systems that prevent or detect any intrusion attempts by outsiders. Access to this area is highly restricted, involving personnel screening and multiple-entry checkpoints.
  • Vital Area: Located within the Protected Area, the Vital Area houses the reactor buildings and contains additional combinations of physical barriers, electronic systems, and administrative controls to protect the nuclear units.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) to develop and submit new reliability standards requiring owners and operators of the bulk power system to address risks due to physical security threats and vulnerabilities. The order directed NERC to require that owners perform a risk assessment of their systems to identify critical facilities; evaluate potential threats to, and vulnerabilities of, those facilities; and develop and implement a security plan to protect against attacks on those facilities. Automated Port Solutions can design a holistic integrated physical security program and assure implementation success via the provision of Owners Representative Services.

Representative Physical Security Systems Experience