Cyber attacks aren’t something many think about when considering the safety of electricity, but they are one of the largest dangers to electric grids. An extremely organized attack on Israel’s Electric Authority earlier this year shut down large portions of the country’s electric grid, and the FBI has recently begun a nationwide campaign for electrical power infrastructure security to protect the United States’ own power grids.

On July 28, Michigan’s electric leaders met to discuss the future of Michigan’s electric grid safety. A region-by-region simulation involving a cyber attack on Michigan’s electric grids was played through, in which hackers covertly and systematically disabled safety systems and were able to overload and burn-out certain generators.

During the simulation 60 natural gas plants, eight coal plants and nine nuclear power plants went offline.

This showed those in attendance – including Consumers Energy representatives, government officials, and our own representatives from Wolverine, HomeWorks, PIE&G, GLE and MECA – that the threat of a cyberattack is real for all of us.

However, employees and member-owners both can rest assured that Michigan’s cooperatives are doing everything possible to protect and maintain their grids against hackers.

“All of Michigan’s co-ops have recently taken steps to enhance cyber security,” said Joe McElroy, director of safety at MECA. “We are taking this threat seriously.”