The #1 goal at CAST Perimeter is to help our customers protect their properties from intruders. While our intent is to protect, the intruder’s intent is to cause harm and destruction. With this in mind, think about the following scenario:
It’s early morning, and an intruder attacks an electrical substation, knocking out transformers which provide power for a high-tech area of the country, technology that includes innovation, venture capital, channels of communication, and social media. To avoid total blackout, officials reroute power around this substation and ask neighboring power plants to produce enough electricity for their normal operations and to compensate for this loss. It takes 27 days to get the attacked substation back online and back to normal operations. The cost to repair is $15.3 Million.
This scenario actually happened in Silicon Valley in April 2013, alerting officials to the danger of not only natural disasters to substations, but also the looming potential for perimeter attacks (click here to read the full story). While Silicon Valley might seem like miles away for some, the impacts that can occur if an electrical substation is damaged or taken offline are numerous and devastating to the local economy as electricity is used for almost everything our daily lives depend on. Here are a few examples:
- No credit card transactions: Many people only use credit cards, so this could be a huge problem if no cash is available
- Online banking operations can be affected
- No gas pumping—those pumps are electric!
- No refrigeration for both homes and grocery stores, causing food spoilage and ruination in hours or days, at the longest
- No ice
- No lights
- No heat in the colder months
- No AC in the hotter months
- No power for technology, affecting both homes and workplaces
- No way to charge cell phones or other electronic devices
- No traffic lights or signals
- And the list goes on and on and on...
The bottom line: We’ve all become reliant on electricity, and for this reason, the government has designated electrical grids as essential because if power goes down, the world basically stops. In fact, power companies are required to perform System Integrity Protection (SIP) upgrades to ensure that the electrical grid is powering America as optimally as possible 24/7/365.
What is Optimal Perimeter Security for Substations?
Substations must be protected with multiple layers of security, and the following recommendations are required for optimal security:
- Remote access surveillance cameras: visual and even thermal
- Motion detectors
- Audible alerts
- Immediate notifications sent for response
- Access control: gates, keypads, biometrics, access cards, etc.
- Lighting: both perimeter and property-wide
Why Lighting is #1 in Preventing Perimeter Intrusions
It’s not enough to have systems set up for when there is an intrusion. You need to stop the intruder in their tracks.
Since lighting is the #1 deterrent for intruders—intruders do not like to be seen—AND lighting is the first line of defense for property security, let’s focus on this aspect of substation security. Your #1 goal as far as security is concerned is to make sure your substation perimeter and everything within your perimeter is properly illuminated to deter any would-be trespassers and to capture sharp, high definition images. The right lighting will achieve both these objectives. Lighting is a science, and we have mastered the art, science, and technology of delivering the best lighting to secure your substation.
Here are some options to consider when designing the lighting plan for a substation, which also apply to any lighting security plan:
- Incorporate lights throughout the substation with a low and even lux distribution that eliminates shadows or blind spots.
- Glare makes it difficult for cameras and security guards to see clearly, so use glare-free lights so any intruders or illegal activity can be clearly seen and recorded.
- Space lights 20-30 feet apart along the fence line so that if one light goes out, the overlapping adjacent fixtures still provide adequate coverage to the site.
- Place perimeter lights at a lower elevation on fencing instead of on poles or more elevated structures to prevent shadows and hiding places and to deliver better vertical and horizontal light coverage.
- Incorporate CAST FlashGlare technology throughout your substation. Here’s why we think FlashGlare is optimal for substation security:
- Most substations remain dark at night because of zoning or locations that forbid lighting all evening.
- When activated, FlashGlare lighting initiates a repeating cycle of lights turned on and off at a user defined duration of every 10 seconds for 1-2 minutes, for example, which confuses the chemicals in the intruder’s eyes, effectively blinding them.
- The lighting can activate both pre-alarm and alarm light cycling to further deter criminals and give the intruder the feeling that someone is watching on the other side.
- Since it can take anywhere from 15-20 seconds for the eyes to adapt and reset to darkness and light, these repeating light cycles and glare that is experienced create not only a high level of discomfort for the eyes—including stars and splotches, but some queasiness is also possible. These discomforts not only disorient the intruder, but they also cause them to change their focus from further intrusion into the substation to retreating altogether.
- All of the above allows time for authorities to be contacted, which increases the chance of apprehending the intruders.
- FlashGlare uses precision LEDs and optics to deliver this solution, and LEDs, if operating all night, will save valuable dollars over time—another bonus.
As electricity and all it powers becomes more and more crucial to the world as a whole, the threat of damage to substations by intruders is very real. The consequences of this damage can affect those living and working within the substation’s service area financially, personally, physically, and professionally, but this damage can even affect people nationwide, as was seen in the Silicon Valley incident.
Contact us with questions and for assistance with planning and implementing your substation—or any property—lighting security plan.