Energy Companies Under Siege
Targets of opportunity must be protected from thieves
- By Juan Hernandez
- Jan 01, 2012
Scrub brush and Joshua trees dot the arid landscape where a new
wave of wind and solar development is growing along the desert
floor. The majestic California Sierras overlook a new forest of mega
wind towers built to harness the powerful winds of the Mojave Desert
into electrical energy. To most people, wind towers represent
green energy and a future away from oil dependence. However, some individuals
see the towers as targets of opportunity and treasure—to be stolen and vandalized.
Brent Schiebel, a premier wind equipment integrator and owner of WindTesting.
com has seen his share of “green” theft over the years.
“I could not believe how quickly the equipment, solar panels, and meteorological
towers were disappearing,” Schiebel said. “Since wind development has skyrocketed
in the Mojave area, crime has grown right along with it.”
Solar panels are indeed targets. The sale of stolen panels is the largest growing
black market in the United States, according The New York Times.
“I knew we had to do something quickly,” Schiebel said, “That’s when I started
to look into industrial security companies and found Brian Levy from Hero Security
and Surveillance Inc.”
Brian Levy knew he was facing a challenge.
“Protecting 30 square miles of desert is extremely difficult,” Levy said. “My client
needed a surveillance solution that could stand alone, be easy to use, and cover
as much of the vulnerable area as possible.”
Levy drew on his years of experience with surveillance equipment, networking
and fabrication to create a standalone surveillance platform that came to life when
anyone pierced its motion detection perimeter.
“The client had a serious problem, and I wanted to give them a real tool for protecting
their expensive equipment,” Levy said. “The system had to be connected to
the Internet in order to be effective, and it had to be intelligent and able to contact
law enforcement when something was wrong. So, with the help of my team, we
created a standalone solar-powered security platform called the ESP.”
ESP stands for the Electronic Surveillance Protector. The ESP is a 12-foot tall
sentinel that uses advanced IR to detect human or vehicular presence.
“I knew false alarms were not going to be tolerated, so I focused on detectors
with unique processing ability,” Levy said. “The whole package had to be reliable.
I chose ICRealtime for their track record of offering advanced products that delivery
The towers were designed for resistance to vandalism with no external wiring
and the use of security bolts and other secret methods to ensure maximum
durability from tampering. The heart of the ESP tower is an ICRealtime DVR
designed specifically for cold start ups, low power drain and Internet connectivity.
The eyes of the system are two 600TVL day/night infrared vandal-proof
dome cameras. The beauty of the tower is that the DVR and cameras can be accessed
through the Internet and can support multiple users in various locations
simultaneously. When the tower detects a perimeter breach, users are alerted via
e-mail or text messaging.
At the core of the system is the ICRealtime PSS software platform with which
users can pull up all the towers on a map and see what is occurring if an alarm is
set off. This type of centralized control is essential for a having a real-time picture
of the wind farm area.
“I can access each tower, make changes on the fly, and it’s because ICRealtime
understands that total control of their products via the Internet is a game changer
when you’re dealing with remote security equipment,” Levy said.
The towers are powered via solar panels and batteries rather than generators
and fossil fuels, which means the system is as green as the energy fields it protects.
“My goal was to make the towers as durable and autonomous as possible so
that my client could focus on their core business rather than worrying about maintenance
and networking issues,” Levy said.
“We needed someone with a rare understanding of industrial security and the
electronic countermeasures needed to protect our towers,” Schiebel said. “I knew
Brian Levy has the right mixture of talent since he spends most of his time consulting
for large companies like mines, power generators and large institutions.
Once we described to him our dilemma, he came back to us with a plan that fit our
requirements and budget.
“This was in no way an easy task, since other companies wanted to charge us
far more for basic designs that offered us no added field intelligence.
As I see it, the core benefit of his design is real-time status
of our assets and the ability to respond in case of trouble.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.