Some have called it a “military-style raid.” Others think it was just vandalism. The event was not widely reported on the news. But the April 2013 attack on the Metcalf substation here in California raised serious concerns for the security of the U.S. power grid.
The Attack at Metcalf
From all reports, there was a measure of precision and coordination in the attack. WSJ.com reports that phone lines in the area were cut first to slow the response of law enforcement. Then attackers positioned themselves and began shooting at the radiators of giant transformers that fed power to Silicon Valley. Seventeen were taken out in the attack that lasted 19 minutes.
The attackers were gone before police arrived.
PG&E power workers had to route power around the substation to avoid a blackout. Repairs to the substation took 27 days and cost $15 million.
Retired vice-president of transmission for PG&E, Mark Johnson, told an industry gathering after the attack that, “This wasn’t an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation…This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components.”
U.S. Power Grid Concerns
The fear, of course, is that similar attacks, if coordinated, could take out the entire power grid. It’s a scenario so devastating to our society and economy that no one wants to consider it.
Substations are nearly ideal targets for terrorists or malcontents, as they are generally in remote or isolated locations, do not require sniper levels of accuracy to sustain severe damage, and don’t shoot back. High-voltage transformers are particularly targetable, as most are custom-designed, replacements are not stocked, and manufacturing and installing new ones can take over a year.
To protect the power grid, power companies need to address the Five “Ds” of Physical Security: Detect, deter, delay, deny and defend. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has set up guidelines and regulations that address active shooter concerns. Starting in July, companies will need to begin investing resources to deter and respond to active shooting events to meet these new regulations.
Solutions will no doubt combine electronic detection systems with more traditional methods, security guards, who can physically react and respond to threats. Officers posted on-site are the most effective solution for detecting, deterring, delaying denying and defending.
Employment as a guard with American Security Force involves successfully passing the State of California’s stringent requirements, as well as our own additional training course. Our guards supply an efficient response to threats at your property or business.
To learn more about how we develop a plan to protect your property, call us at 877-722-8585.