Next installment of infrastructure package ready

The next installment in the AP-APME infrastructure initiative, which focuses on threats to the nation’s power supplies from cyberSuspicious Packageattacks, major storms and bottlenecks in transmitting renewable energy, will move in advance Dec. 16. The package will be for use Dec. 21 and thereafter, including during the holiday period. The video, interactive and Fractured Framework logo also will move next week.

The AP is providing four data sets, specific questions for reporters to ask their local utilities and state-by-state details about renewable energy goals to help members localize the package. The embargoed data sets and detailed explanations have been emailed to AP member editors.

For questions about the power grid package, contact AP National Investigative Editor Rick Pienciak at rpienciak@ap.org or State Government Team Editor Tom Verdin at taverdin@ap.org

The full package digest is below.

___

PACKAGE DIGEST:

INFRASTRUCTURE-POWER GRID-CYBERATTACKS

SAN JOSE, Calif. _ In a targeted hacking campaign that compromised the networks that keep the nation’s lights on, Iran-based intruders stole confidential names, passwords and detailed engineering drawings of dozens of power plants run by one of the nation’s largest electric power producers, The Associated Press has learned. These types of sophisticated hacks, which are typically sealed from the public eye as soon as they happen, are especially troubling to authorities because they are designed to position adversaries inside the systems that run the electric grid, potentially giving them the ability to knock out power to millions of customers. About a dozen times, hackers have deployed snippets of code that have given them enough remote access to control the operations networks that power the grid. Those incidents combined with a constant battery of lower-level cyberattacks on the grid, are among the biggest and most alarming new vulnerabilities facing an aging, outdated power system that has become ever more critical to modern life. UPCOMING: About 3,500 words. An abridged version also will move. By Garance Burke and Jonathan Fahey. Photos. Video. Interactive.

INFRASTRUCTURE-POWER GRID-EXTREME WEATHER

WAVELAND, Miss. _ After Superstorm Sandy’s ravaging winds, rains and tides cut power to 7 million homes in the Northeast, Consolidated Edison spent hundreds of millions of dollars to harden its power grid against the increasingly erratic weather hitting New York City. But in southern Mississippi, Coast Electric, a small cooperative utility, says it simply doesn’t have the money to make all the upgrades it would like to protect its system against the next, inevitable hurricane. The co-op made major improvements after being pummeled by Hurricane Katrina a decade ago, like elevating a new electrical substation to 18 feet above sea level, but seven substations that flooded during Katrina remain at the same elevation and are still just as vulnerable to catastrophic storms. Like many utilities across the U.S., Coast Electric must balance customer costs with the need for upgrades to confront the increasing number of extreme weather events that are challenging the core infrastructure keeping the lights on. UPCOMING: 1,500 words. An abridged version also will move. By Holbrook Mohr and Garance Burke. Photos.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE-POWER GRID-RENEWABLE ENERGY

MOBERLY, Mo. _ Mike McKeown opens the back door of his Missouri farm house and is met with a chilly gust. “Stupid wind,” he mutters. Today, the winds that blow throughout much of the year on his family corn and soybean farm have become more than just an irritant. The homestead in northern Missouri, which his family has owned for nearly 70 years, sits smack in the path of a proposed high-voltage line carrying renewable energy from the wind-whipped plains of western Kansas to power-thirsty cities farther east. And McKeown doesn’t like that. Due partly to the intense opposition from local property owners, Missouri regulators have blocked the 780-mile-long Grain Belt Express power line from being built. In doing so, they have highlighted one of the toughest challenges facing the nation as it tries to shift toward a greater reliance on renewable energy. Converting the wind and sun into electricity is increasingly affordable, but it can be difficult to get that electricity from the windy plains and deserts to the places where it’s needed. By David A. Lieb. UPCOMING: 1,200 words. Photos.

With:

_ BC-US–Infrastructure-Power Grid-Energy Goals, a description of the renewal energy goals in each state.

Data sets:

_ Power outages: Emergency outage reports from major utilities covering 2002 to 2015.

Reliability metrics: Average duration and frequency of outages for utilities, broken down by state, for 2014.

Utility territories: An index of energy providers nationwide, which can be used to pinpoint local utilities.

Violations index: An index of enforcement actions against utilities.

Other localization components:

_ The main README file for the data sets includes 15 groups of questions that can guide reporters seeking to localize the project.

_ A description of the renewal energy goals in each state, a separate list that will accompany the Renewable Energy sidebar.

Interactive:

A state-by-state analysis of power outages by category over time.

 

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