Sunday, February 9, 2014

[utsandiego] Attack shows vulnerability of power grid

By U-T San Diego Editorial Board 5 P.M.FEB. 8, 2014
A sophisticated, previously undisclosed early-morning attack on a Pacific Gas and Electric substation in the Silicon Valley last April should serve as a wake-up call about the vulnerability of U.S. electricity-transmission systems.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, a team of unknown individuals first cut phone lines at a nearby underground vault and then using sniper fire crippled 17 giant transformers. Disruption to the California power grid was minimized, but in different circumstances, the attack could have yielded mass blackouts. Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S.

Thankfully, both electric utilities and government authorities seem to understand the seriousness of this incident and appear to have increased security at power facilities. The idea of a devastating attack on the grid once seemed the stuff of Hollywood thrillers. Now it seems far more real.

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