You’ve heard me tell you many times that the nation’s electrical grid is vulnerable. That’s no secret anymore. Even the government has come out and acknowledged the truth of that statement. The grid is obviously vulnerable to extreme weather, as we’ve seen countless times, and it’s also proven to be vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Now, a story about a physical attack against the grid has finally become public. The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets are reporting on an incident that occurred near San Jose, California, in April 2013.
Shortly after telephone cables were cut, multiple snipers fired shots on the nearby Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation’s Metcalf transmission substation. It took nearly a month for workers to make the repairs and bring the substation back to life. To this day, no one has been arrested in connection with the sabotage.
Was this an isolated incident conducted by vandals, or was it a dress rehearsal by terrorists? What really matters is that the incident proved the vulnerability of the grid against a terrorist attack. It showed that a coordinated attack on substations in major cities across the country could be very effective in plunging much of the country into the dark, possibly for an extended period of time. The fact is, other critical electrical grid sites remain just as unprotected as this one was.
Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that the attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S.
It seems inevitable that at some point or another, all of us will experience power outages if we’re connected to the grid. They may be merely short inconveniences, or they may be long-term incidents. We just don’t know. What have you done to prepare for such an event?