Americans Worry about a Potental Grid Attack: Poll

April 6, 2017
Americans worry about the vulnerability of their power supply, yet are unprepared if a grid attack occurs, according to a new poll.

Americans worry about a potential grid attack, yet are unprepared if one occurs, according to a new poll released by the not-for-profit group Protect Our Power (POP).

More than 60 percent of the 1,207 Americans polled in March fear cyber or physical attacks from foreign enemies. Roughly the same number see themselves as unprepared for a power outage that lasts more than two weeks. Yet, losing power for even more than a week would cause “significant harm” to the daily lives of about half the respondents, according to the poll.

Government takes the brunt of the blame for the situation. Only about nine percent of respondents believe that the U.S. government is doing all it should to avert a grid attack.

“Recently, we’ve learned of increased cyber attacks and there is a growing real concern expressed by the American people about our vulnerabilities,” said Jim Cunningham, POP executive director.

Almost half of those surveyed want lawmakers to prioritize passage of a comprehensive federal law protecting the nation from a grid attack.

“The nation’s electric grid is incredibly complex,” said Suedeen Kelly, POP’s regulatory counsel and chair of the energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice at Washington law firm Akin Gump, and a former commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “To improve the grid’s resilience, we must help industry leaders, regulators and legislators work together to determine and implement the most practicable solutions with suitable funding mechanisms to pay for them.”

Findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly 70 percent are aware of threats to the grid, such as cyber and physical attacks
  • Nearly 61 percent believe the electric grid is vulnerable to a cyber or physical attack
  • Nearly 64 percent would feel unsafe in the event of an extended power outage
  • Nearly 65 percent say they are unprepared for an extended power outage
  • More than 68 percent say they would anticipate significant financial or quality-of-life damage in the event of an extended outage

The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3%.

POP, a collective of industry experts and stakeholders, formed last year to advocate for protecting energy infrastructure from physical harm and cyber threats. The complete poll results are available on POP’s website.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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