Electricity moves through a complex transmission system. Transformers are
located in substations near electric generating plants. In much the same way
that a pump builds up the pressure of water in a hose, transformers step up the
electricity voltage to levels ranging from 69,000 to 765,000 volts. From the
transformers, electricity enters the transmission system.
federal energy regulators approved the Spare Transformer Equipment Program
(STEP), an electric industry program that strengthens the sector's ability to
restore the nation's transmission system more quickly in the event of a
terrorist attack. STEP represents a coordinated approach to increasing the
electric power industry's inventory of spare transformers and streamlining the
process of transferring those transformers to affected utilities in the event of
a transmission outage caused by a terrorist attack.
Under the program, each participating electric utility is required to
maintain and, if necessary, acquire a specific number of transformers. STEP
requires each participating utility to sell its spare transformers to any other
participating utility that suffers a "triggering event," defined as an act of
terrorism that destroys or disables one or more substations and results in the
declared state of emergency by the President of the United States.
Any shareholder-owned, government-owned, or rural electric cooperative
utility in the United States or Canada may participate in the program.
Currently 52 utilities are members.