Electric Grid Resilience

The power grid has vulnerabilities that can be exploited by manmade and natural events. INL plays a leading role in protecting the modern power grid from cyber and physical threats.

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INL solves national challenges with technology innovations that provide intelligent sensors and wireless communications to enhance the resilience and security of the Smart Grid, secure control systems to reduce the threat of cyber attack, and physical devices and barriers to protect substations and transformers from geomagnetic disturbance and ballistic attacks.

Electric Grid Reliability


To help protect the modern power grid from cyber and physical threats, INL performs full-scale, end-to-end grid reliability testing for industry and government.

In addition to conducting vulnerability assessments in Idaho, INL engineers and cyber specialists perform on-site assessments at transmission and generation control centers and at substation automation installations throughout the United States.

INL’s Electric Grid Test Bed

It is a 61 mile, 138kV dual-fed power loop complete with seven substations and a control center, all linked with state–of–the–art communications and instrumentation capabilities. Portions of the power loop can be isolated and reconfigured for independent, specialized testing.


Critical Infrastructure Test Range

INL’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range allows for scalable physical and cyber performance testing to be conducted on industry-scale infrastructure systems. It includes an Electric Grid Test Bed and a Cyber Security Test Bed.

INL facilities are spread across 890 square miles in clusters similar to modern cities and other environments. Because of this, INL operates its own electrical power transmission and distribution system. The Test Range allows organizations to visualize, analyze, and test their infrastructure systems in a domain that is more realistic than computer simulations, yet safe and secure.

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Resilient Controls and Instrumentation Systems (ReCIS)

ReCIS research is centered on developing components, programs, systems and individuals for any application that requires monitoring, control, and human interaction.External peer review and advisory committees made up of academic, R&D, and customer organizations provide independent and ongoing review of the strategy within the signature and the focus or research funds.

Real Time Digital Simulator

In collaboration with the Department of Defense, cyber and electric grid reliability researchers at INL have acquired and are using the physics-based Real Time Digital Simulator for enhancing the security of the nation’s electric power grid and related control systems including supervisory control and data acquisition systems. It allows engineers to visualize the effects of power grid failures. With 15 racks, INL has the largest installation of RTDS in the national lab system.

The ability to simulate real–time power grid information is a key factor in detecting previously unknown vulnerabilities and providing infrastructure owners and operators with a path forward for responding to grid failures. The simulator allows critical infrastructure protection specialists to predict, plan and prepare for catastrophic events.

Response and Recovery

Large disasters may ripple across cities, regions or even nationally through interconnected critical infrastructure systems. Right now, many of those connections are invisible, making it very difficult to put effective mitigation strategies in place. Critical links are often uncovered too late, causing greater impacts to infrastructure and challenging recovery efforts on the ground.

Our critical infrastructures are rife with hidden dependencies and unidentified risks. INL is works with industry, government agencies and universities to provide innovation and technology to advance a secure and reliable flow of energy across the nation.  

INL develops new ways to enable decision-makers to understand the inter-connectivity and interdependencies of critical infrastructure systems. N&HS employs teams of experts partner with industry and government to provide response and recovery from natural and cybersecurity events  for owners and operators of critical infrastructure. The lab’s expertise spans industrial control systems security, forensics and analysis.    

The goal is to simplify and speed risk analysis by effectively and efficiently identifying hidden dependency risks, provide planners the ability to identify mission-critical processes and dependencies, and address contingency measures well before disaster strikes.