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Due to the fragile nature of a City-ships buildings, they are extremely vulnerable to lightning. To protect a City-ship from lightning strikes, they are equipped with a large number of lightning rods dispersed throughout its structure. These rods channel the electric current of lightning to the closest grounding station, which in turn disperse the received energy into the ground or ocean. Although it is unknown how many stations every other City-ship has, Atlantis itself possesses four (so this can be assumed to be the standard for other City-ships as well). On Atlantis, two of the stations are located in the central area of the city, close to transport chambers, while the other two are located on the outskits of the city, on the edge of the piers. (SGA: "The Storm")
To disable a station, one must input the Ancient equivalent of "031547" into a console close to the station in question. Once the disable code has been correctly entered, the station separates into two parts and the lightning directed to that station will run rampant inside the hallways of that region of the city. (SGA: "The Storm", "The Eye")
The grounding stations came into use for the Atlantis expedition only once, when the city was threatened by a large storm. Since they had no energy to power Atlantis' shield to protect the city, Dr. Rodney McKay and Dr. Radek Zelenka devised a plan which would lead the energy of lightning strikes directly into the shield, thus powering it up and protecting the city. To get this plan to work, the four stations had to be disabled. However, while Atlantis was evacuated to try and put the plan into action- as the entire city apart from the control room would be electrified as a result-, the Genii invaded Atlantis and one of the soldiers damaged one of the grounding stations in the subsequent fight. However, McKay managed to repair it in time, and the plan was successfully carried out. (SGA: "The Storm", "The Eye")