If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California.
Yes, “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” and in San Jose in 2013!
Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and “surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley.”
In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.
What if this was a broader attack–what could have happened?
Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.
According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.”
Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in “prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”
Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?
Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid.
“Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage.”
The Former FERC Chairman said, “What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem.”
Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time?
On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?
Our Achilles’ heels–and is anyone even paying serious attention?
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic.)