GPS-Based Timing for Power System Applications: Vulnerabilities and Mitigation Strategies

Presented By:
Alejandro D. Domínguez-García and Grace Xingxin Gao, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Date and Location:
Friday, October 3, 2014 - 1:00pm
NCSA Auditorium | Webcast

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the most widely used example of what is more broadly known as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). GPS provides precise location and time information to any receiver capable of receiving and decoding the timing signals from at least four satellites in the GPS constellation. The civilian GPS signal does not come with any authenticators, and, given the relatively low signal strength, is vulnerable to intentional or malicious jamming from land-based transmitters. The application of GPS in the power sector can potentially have significant impact on the bulk electric system through its integration into synchronization devices such as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs). Given that PMU technology is expected to transition to control applications in the future and that the primary time synchronization mechanism used by PMUs (today) is GPS, there is growing concern that a dependency on GPS will introduce a built-in vulnerability into the infrastructure. In this talk, we will discuss potential vulnerabilities of GPS-based timing that can adversely affect PMU accuracy, and devise mitigation schemes to counteract them.


Professor Domínguez-García Alejandro D. Domínguez-García is an Associate Professor and a Grainger Associate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he is affiliated with the Power and Energy Systems area. He is also an Associate Professor at the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the Information Trust Institute, both at the University of Illinois. His research interests are in the areas of system reliability theory and control, and their applications to electric power systems, power electronics, and embedded electronic systems for safety-critical/fault-tolerant aircraft, aerospace, and automotive applications.

Professor Domínguez-García received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in 2007 and the degree of Electrical Engineer from the University of Oviedo, Spain, in 2001. After finishing his Ph.D., he spent some time as a post-doctoral research associate at the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining MIT as a graduate student, he was with the Department of Electrical Engineering of the University of Oviedo where he held the position of Assistant Professor. 

Professor Domínguez-García received the NSF CAREER Award in 2010, and the Young Engineer Award from the IEEE Power and Energy Society in 2012. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Power Systems and the IEEE Power Engineering Letters. 

Professor Grace GaoGrace Xingxin Gao is an Assistant Professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and her M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2003, both at Tsinghua University, China. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in 2008. Before joining Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an assistant professor in 2012, Professor Gao was a research associate at Stanford University.

Professor Gao has won a number of awards, including RTCA William E. Jackson Award, Institute of Navigation Early Achievement Award, 50 GNSS Leaders to Watch by GPS World Magazine, and multiple best presentation awards at ION GNSS conferences. Professor Gao has been elected and serves as Institute of Navigation Council member and co-chair of the Technical Committee on Air Navigation.

Seminar Status:
About the TCIPG Seminar Series:

The seminar series is presented by the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Project, an $18 million multi-university research effort whose partner institutions include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Dartmouth, and Washington State University. The TCIPG Project, a successor to the earlier NSF-funded TCIP Center, was founded in 2009 with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is housed in the Information Trust Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.