Sniper Attack On America’s Power Grid

In the wake of an attack on a California electrical utility, terrorism experts are warning that the power grid could be America’s weak point, reports the Wall Street Journal:

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

Video from Santa Clara County Sherriff’s Office: New surveillance video from the PG&E substation on Metcalf Road. The video shows bullets hitting the fence causing sparks. The sparks can be seen at minutes: 1:54, 2:07, 2:10, 2:57 and 3:01.


To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.’s Metcalf transmission substation. 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 assembled a chronology of the Metcalf attack from filings PG&E made to state and federal regulators; from other documents including a video released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department; and from interviews, including with Mr. Wellinghoff.

The 64-year-old Nevadan, who was appointed to FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush and stepped down in November, said he gave closed-door, high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. As months have passed without arrests, he said, he has grown increasingly concerned that an even larger attack could be in the works. He said he was going public about the incident out of concern that national security is at risk and critical electric-grid sites aren’t adequately protected.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t think a terrorist organization caused the Metcalf attack, said a spokesman for the FBI in San Francisco. Investigators are “continuing to sift through the evidence,” he said…

[continues at the Wall Street Journal]


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13 Comments on "Sniper Attack On America’s Power Grid"

  1. Simon Valentine | Feb 5, 2014 at 11:42 am |

    *gasp* you mean my nvidia drivers won’t work?
    *hands on cheeks* you mean the crap engineer in the area is crap?

    you mean they’re following a business model like a mini-government? *facepalm*
    gotta love $ eyed hypocrite bastard criminal frauds
    love’m … with beatings

  2. emperorreagan | Feb 5, 2014 at 11:47 am |

    No shit. Centralized systems are always subject to attack. It’s the same strategy the military uses in selecting targets – bridges, dams, water purification, power generation, power distribution, rail, and other such structures that power modern civilization are good targets. And those are just a handful of targets among dozens of other possibilities available to terrorists (like basically any public place with a high density of people).

    International terrorism is the fear-mongering fantasy of old cold warriors in search of a new enemy. If there were international terror organizations targeting the United States, the only problem they would have is picking among the wealth of targets and finding at least 1 person willing to do something. The FBI has had no problem recruiting people to engage in their fake terror attacks, so finding someone that could be coerced/convinced into doing something shouldn’t be a problem either.

    Where terrorism is very real? Primarily in countries where partisans use it as a tactic against the government they perceive as an oppressor.

    • Anarchy Pony | Feb 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm |

      I saw a report a couple of years ago by some of those urban explorer types that the vast majority of the us’s sensitive urban infrastructure is essentially unguarded. Anyone determined could wreak serious havoc. And yet it doesn’t happen.

      • emperorreagan | Feb 5, 2014 at 9:07 pm |

        Yeah, I’ve gotten in to a lot of places I should never have been allowed just by trying doors to see if they’re unlocked, or hanging a turn down a random corridor.

    • American Cannibal | Feb 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm |

      IDK. This incident sounds eerily close to the plot from Bleeding Edge. Best keep an eye on everything & everyone to make sure…

    • kowalityjesus | Feb 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm |

      this isn’t really terrorism, though. More like expensive vandalism.

      • emperorreagan | Feb 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm |

        Perhaps, but the article characterizes it as terrorism and a target for terrorism.

  3. OdinMcHaggis | Feb 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm |

    Is there anything the government parasites wouldn’t do to justify their existence and expansion of authority?

  4. The fact that this is the first and only time this is known to have happened is proof of how little a threat actual terrorism poses to Americans. There is no real terrorism, and all the terrorism that does exist is carried out with the assistance of the US government.

  5. Rhoid Rager | Feb 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm |

    walt’s dead, stank; walt’s dead.

  6. Rhoid Rager | Feb 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm |

    setting up a centralized energy distribution system is terrorism.

  7. Sarcasmo | Feb 5, 2014 at 8:49 pm |

    What would the motive have been? Just sheer hatred of our freedumb? Something about this narrative smells like bs.

  8. jasonpaulhayes | Feb 6, 2014 at 9:51 am |

    Going off the grid sounds nice but I wasn’t expecting it to happen according to Ted Kaczynski’s Manifesto.

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