The Evolution of Substation Security Walls
In days gone by, substations were typically located on the outskirts of populated areas and surrounded by chain link fence. As development expanded, many of the substations that were originally on the periphery, found themselves now in the heart of communities and surrounded by residential, industrial and commercial development.
To shield the substation infrastructure from view, oftentimes colored plastic slats were inserted in the chain link fence to block off the line of sight. Substation walls in populated areas began to transition to masonry to hide equipment in some cases. But as prices of copper increased, it rapidly became the target of thieves. As substations were breached and penetrated by cutting through chain link fences to steal copper, perpetrators have suffered injury, and in some cases, death by electrocution.
To further mitigate theft and vandalism, and maintain safety, substation perimeters have increasingly adopted more solid perimeter walls, initially in the form of concrete block wall but over the past 15 to 20 years, precast concrete walls have gained more and more popularity. One of the primary reasons is that precast concrete walls install faster and offer more decorative finishes than conventional masonry. Additionally, when taller walls are required, precast concrete security walls tend to be less expensive to build than CMU walls, since continuous foundations are not required, thus reducing costs.
Terrorist Targets Are Not Limited to Military Sites
A report entitled “Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System,” written by the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 and declassified in 2012, declared that “If [a terrorist attack] were carried out in a carefully planned way, it could deny large regions of the country access to bulk system power for weeks or even months.” In addition, “Terrorist attacks on multiple-line transmission corridors could cause cascading blackouts.”
Keeping power grids up and running is crucial to national security, and terrorism through a physical attack is just as potentially damaging as through cyber-intrusion. Luckily, concrete barriers systems provide a partial answer by making physical terrorist attacks on power substations more difficult, and therefore less likely.
On April 16th, 2013 PG&E’s Metcalf Bulk Transmission Substation outside of San Jose, California, which was at the time secured by a chain link fence, suffered a sniper attack causing over $15 million of damage. The attack was investigated by Homeland Security and the FBI.
Over a mile of AFTEC’s StoneTree® Wall System in heights of 12 feet high and 16 feet high wall was constructed to secure the site and replace the chain link fence.
In addition to the walls, the Metcalf Substation was further secured with security cameras and better lighting. Not only was the wall used to prevent entry, but also to prevent line of sight of critical infrastructure equipment. Construction of the StoneTree® substation security wall was completed mid-2015.
Sturdy Substation Walls Offer Protection with Fast Installation
AFTEC’s StoneTree® Security Walls provides the fastest solution for securing a site as the integration of column and panel (into single wall sections) installed with supporting steel beams installs twice as fast as traditional precast (with separate components or CMU walls) Additionally, by using caisson footings at 15ft intervals, and not a continuous foundation as required by masonry block, cost is more competitive.
AFTEC substation security walls meet FERC, NERC and DHS standards.
AFTEC’s Security Walls offer the ultimate in:
- Blocking line-of-site of high-voltage substation transformers and equipment.
- Perimeter Protection from intruders from accidental electrocution, injury and death.
- Durable protection of power equipment from vandalism and theft.
- Flexibility of adapting to future maintenance requirements.
- Adaption of security elements such as razor wire, lighting and electronic surveillance.
AFTEC substation security walls incorporate the industry’s best standards to protect the country’s substation portion of the power grid.
Power Utility Plants Utilizing AFTEC Walls for Perimeter Security Include:
- North Western Energy
- Southern California Edison
- Brazos Electric Cooperative
Maximum Security for Power & Transmission Stations
AFTEC’s standard security walls range from 4 to 6 inches in thickness with the design built engineered steel reinforcement and can also be custom built for greater thickness if required. The StoneTree® brand wall can be constructed to 16ft height, and AFTEC’s SoundTec™ stacked panel wall can be built to any desired height for maximum security needs. All walls can be manufactured with attachments for any type of security apparatus and conduit for electrical supply.
Colored concrete sealers are applied to AFTEC substation security walls which enhances the decorative nature of the design and protects the concrete reducing maintenance.
AFTEC Transformer Blast Walls
AFTEC also supplies transformer blast walls manufactured with refractory brick aggregate to withstand the heat generated from transformer explosions. Transformer blast walls are engineered to provide maximum protection between transformer units and prevent fire.
For more information about substation security walls, call (866) 370-3676 to speak to an AFTEC concrete forming expert.