Group of companies work to secure Oregon power grid

A Willamette Valley consortium develops security products that aim to protect the state’s energy grid.

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A consortium of Willamette Valley companies is developing security products that aim to protect the state’s energy grid.

The state of security for energy infrastructure in the state is generally weak as the system was built before terrorism “was an issue,” writes the Register-Guard.

Of particular concern are high-voltage transformer units, which make up less than 3 percent of transformers in U.S. power substations but carry 60 to 70 of the nation’s electricity, according to a June 2014 study by the Congressional Research Service. The report noted: “HV transformers are also the most vulnerable to intentional damage from malicious acts.” [Partner Russ] Monk was well aware of this when he started building his consortium in 2013.

High Impact Technology had some but not all of the key ingredients needed to protect substations, he said. Other Oregon companies could supply the missing ingredients, he said. He initially contacted about a half dozen companies, starting with concrete producer Knife River — “We needed cast concrete” — which in turn recommended other firms. Knife River has a precast-prestress factory in Harrisburg. Forming a consortium meant that the companies could jointly offer a complete package to protect transformer substations against natural disasters and attacks, foreign or domestic, Monk said. And the market for these products was about to expand significantly.

Monk said the group in Oregon has a headstart on the rest of the country in developing security for the electrical grid.

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