Policymakers and utility officials are serious about the immediate need for power grid protection. They’ve known about the threat for years, yet did little about it. After a string of high profile multi-state attacks were carried out successfully it got everyone’s attention. A few more happened recently that they’re keeping quietly under the radar because they weren’t as successful.
Plugging grid vulnerability
Everyone in the electrical industry nationwide are scrambling to “shore up the security of the electrical grid,” New York Post reports.
The wake up call came “after a series of attacks at substations in recent months exposed vulnerabilities and knocked out power for thousands.”
In the past year, four states reported “deliberate attacks” on their transmission substations. The best ways to take out power across a large grid are gunfire, regular fire, and sabotage of switches. The one that happened in early December wiped out power to 45,000 citizens of Moore County, North Carolina.
As a string of attacks on electrical substations unfolded in Oregon and Washington in 2022, the FBI was warning utilities of white supremacists’ plots to take down the nation’s power grid.
— NPR (@NPR) January 20, 2023
Two separate substations “were attacked with gunfire.” According to state lawmaker Ben Moss, “when the power goes out, you don’t have heat, don’t have food, can’t get fuel or some medications, the people are unsafe.” It’s domestic terror.
His idea is a bill that would “require utilities to provide 24-hour security at substations.” Probably a good idea but expensive, as utility customers shudder to think.
He notes that the grid isn’t the same everywhere so “security improvements would vary at different sites.” Right now, “some facilities are gated and have video surveillance while others are relatively exposed.”
A conversation opener
Moss is realistic enough of a lawmaker to understand that sponsoring a bill protecting the grid and getting it signed into law are two entirely different things.
He told reporters that he considers his offering “a conversation opener” that he hopes “will help lawmakers, utilities and security experts identify cost-effective defenses that won’t result in higher prices for consumers.” That’s a good idea and will probably generate some solid legislation down the line.
The sooner, the better. Officials at the Federal Bureau of Instigation are still blaming the string of four sabotage attacks on the grid which took out power across Washington State on Christmas day on a “burglary.”
During the first part of 2022, between January and August, there were 106 attacks on the ElectricalGrid, which was the highest number ever recorded in a single year. There was another attack last week on the power grid in Las Vegas that went ignored by the national media. pic.twitter.com/z8bTfwzYek
— catranchdream🇨🇦🩸😤 (@catranchdream) January 12, 2023
Allegedly, two petty thieves knocked out four substations to rob one cash register. That sounds conveniently like a way to avoid domestic terror charges but Merrick Garland hasn’t decided if they’re right-wing enough to press charges against.
Just last week, North Carolina got hit again. They quietly “reported an incident involving gunfire at a substation in Randolph County.” That one, they say doesn’t count because “no outages were reported.” Even so, the “Joint Terrorism Task Force is reportedly probing the incident.” They’re still clueless on who took out the Moore County and Randolph County substations.
Besides that, “South Carolina saw at least 12 incidents involving intentional damage at substations last year, including an incident the FBI responded to days after the Moore County, North Carolina, in which gunfire was reported, but the power remained on.” That’s another grid attack they tried to slide under the radar.