The City of Palo Alto (COPA) Utility Department is working on a project to enhance the security of the local electric utility grid by providing for proper tree abatement and fence realignments and improvements at the COPA's Hanover Electric Substation (HES) and Hansen Way Substation (HWES), which are both on land leased from Stanford University.
This project came about as part of the Electric Substation Physical Security recommendation report, dated 2017, from the City of Palo Alto's 3rd party Consultant, Burns & McDonnell, in compliance with recent Federal Department of Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulatory standards to enhance the security of the electric grid.
In getting all nine of our electric substations secured, we are directed " ... to remove as many trees and shrubs as practical from a 20' radius inside and outside our electric substation fences". Fences are to be "replaced to bring up to current standards" with a goal to "increase the space between the fencing and the utility assets within the electric substation". There is to be a 'clear-zone' to eliminate hiding places for any potential saboteurs, show an 'occupied' appearance, open up the view for outward pointing security cameras and lighting, and eliminate climbing aids for potential saboteurs to gain entry over the fences. With regulatory responsibility for the 'electric grid', FERC is stepping up the enforcement of protection for our nation's electric assets.
In addition to the regulatory directive, many of the tall trees surrounding HES & HWES are within reach of the 60,000 volt electric overhead bus. These trees represent a potential unplanned loss of power to the Hanover Way/Hillview Drive/Page Mill Road/Porter Drive corridors in the event any of those trees should fall or lose large limbs towards the station bus during storms. Additionally, this work will increase the defensible space around these stations, helping to mitigate against possible wildfire incidents or impacts.