Providing unique insights into the performance of highly complex command and control systems from a radically different perspective, Mason Willrich describes how each of the major components of electricity infrastructure is interconnected and interactive with the others. How can this be illustrative for thinking about the challenges - and solutions - for nuclear command and control?
The command function for initiating the use of U.S. nuclear armed forces will come directly from the U.S. President, while the command function within America’s electricity system is the aggregate of individual commands issued by millions of American consumers of electricity. These two command functions exist in worlds that are very far apart, however, the control and communication functions within America’s electric system can be mined for insights regarding NC3. This is especially the case for the control and communication functions of the seven regional RTO/ISO organized wholesale power markets which deliver electricity - continuously - to most of America’s electric consumers. Finally, both NC3 systems and electric systems share a common threat — the risks posed by cyber attacks.
In this essay, Mason Willrich suggests that there are important lessons for NC3 operators in how electric power utilities control their grids, especially how they ensure that interconnections with adjacent grids are maintained continuously in spite of the potentially catastrophic risks of grid failure arising from instability originating outside a utility system.