Mark Mykleby and Jon Wellinghoff: Rethinking security

If squirrels and people hopping fences can take down a city's electric system for a few hours, imagine what an intentional attack by a real enemy can do.

Grid security is a real issue. The U.S. electricity system of centralized grids is extremely vulnerable, said Jon Wellinghoff, former chief of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and now a lawyer at Stoel Rives LLP in San Francisco. But an answer is readily available.

"Microgrids are ultimately is where we need to move — a distributed type system — if we are ever going to put up a defensible grid that can be sufficiently secured," Wellinghoff said in conversation with Joel Makower, GreenBiz chairman and executive editor.

Distributed electricity microgrids would confound a purported attacker. Microgrids wound diffuse the central nervous system of an electricity system to millions of nodes, geographically dispersed.

Mark Mykleby, co-founder of the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western University and retired U.S. Colonel, noted there's "a security logic to sustainability because you have redundancy of systems," which make a system less vulnerable to attack or catastrophes.