It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country. The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time. -The Wall Street Journal, Feb-4 2014“These were not amateurs taking potshots,” Mark Johnson said during a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia last year. “My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal” for future attacks. “There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid,” said Jon Wellinghoff, reported by ForeignPolicy.com Most people will agree that we are dependent upon the electrical power grid more than any other system in the modern world. Generations of us have grown up with this dependence and most would not survive (literally) without it. This is not only a reason for better security, protection, and hardening of our grid systems, but it is a reason to be better prepared for survival without it.
Image credit: ABC7 News, KGOTV San Francisco “This wasn’t some haphazard type attack from four or five guys drinking beer one night. Looks like it was a planned attack,” Someone dropped into an underground vault and cut phone cables, interrupting service to most of Gilroy. Then, the snipers opened fire on the substation, shooting for 19 minutes. More than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings were found at the scene. They knocked out 17 transformers that supply power to Silicon Valley. When police arrived, they were gone… This news had been kept quiet since the incident last April, but now is being leaked out from several media outlets… ABC7 NEWS in San Francisco reported yesterday that the attack was downplayed as vandalism during the time immediately following the attack at the Metcalf substation just south of San Jose, California. The Wall Street Journal just reported “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components,” said Mark Johnson, retired vice president of transmission for PG&E. The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year (2013), when someone slipped into an underground vault and cut fiber cables, which knocked out local 911 service, cell phone service, and landline service to the substation. Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on the Metcalf electrical substation firing more than 100 rounds – shooting for 19 minutes as they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. It took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.