Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Responding to concerns that potential security gaps have yet to be addressed at power facilities serving millions of homes and other customers, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said Friday they take the security of their power grid “very seriously” and are working to assess and protect it.

The utility has failed to adequately address security issues identified 15 years ago, according to the 2015 Industrial Economic and Administrative Survey prepared by the consulting firm Navigant. The study is commissioned every five years by the city controller.

The report includes findings from reviews of the condition of LADWP’s power and water system infrastructure, the department’s strategies and its governance structure, as well as a redacted section on security issues.

At a power transmission facility serving millions of homes, “Navigant onsite staff did not observe any cameras in working order or intrusion detection on the perimeter fencing or access points,” according to a section of the report quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News, which obtained an unredacted copy of the report.

One transmission center had no working security cameras or alarms on its doors, while at another facility, delivery trucks could enter without being inspected or being asked to present documentation, according to the newspaper’s account.

At one generating station, an overgrowth of weeds, trees and other foliage were such that intruders trying to breach the facility could use them as cover. Navigant also found that power system personnel were concerned for their safety due to prior breaches by unauthorized individuals, the Daily News reported.

LADWP officials, in a statement issued in response to the Daily News story, said the utility takes “the security of our infrastructure very seriously and are continuously assessing and implementing new measures to protect our assets.”

They said the utility conducts various independent reviews of security at its facilities, and that “to further strengthen these efforts, we are currently conducting a federally prescribed security review in accordance with a critical infrastructure protection standard known as CIP-014, which is mandated by NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation).”

“Through this process, critical facilities once again have been thoroughly assessed and additional security measures are recommended, if needed, and implemented according to specific timelines,” the LADWP statement said.

“The process also includes expert independent third-party review of the methodology and recommended security enhancements,” according to the LADWP.

“Through this process we will once again review the specific recommendations in the IEA report that have not already been acted on to determine what additional security measures if any are needed and we will make them.”

—City News Service

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