SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. power supply network is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, according to a study just released by the National Research Council.
Most of Texas gets it power from its own grid operated by ERCOT.
ERCOT says it has blackout plans in place, and the staff does go through regular practice drills.
But the report warns an attack on the national grid could cause months of blackouts because the U.S. doesn’t have a back-up supply of high-voltage transformers.
The machines are big, difficult to move and mostly manufactured out of the country.
The National Research Council report – completed five years ago but just now declassified – warns the U.S. doesn’t have enough spare transformers on standby.
"The vulnerability to attack is a concern,” Terry Hadley with the Public Utility Commission of Texas says.
He says the report’s findings will advance the discussion on preparing for a terrorist attack.
"Those are increased costs but it's certainly something worth looking at to help enhance not only security but reliability,” Hadley says.
News 4 WOAI asked ERCOT if it has spare transformers. A spokesperson says it does not own transmission or generation equipment.
Instead, ERCOT coordinates with individual operators and owners, like local energy companies.
"One concern is going to be something the report doesn't mention: what does it all cost?" Hadley says.
He says the price would be staggering, and it would without question be passed on to ratepayers.
CPS Energy declined to comment on the national report.
Like other utility companies, CPS has filed an emergency operation plan with the state on how it would deal with attacks. The Public Utility Commission says it was last updated in June 2008.