U.S. Power Grid Shockingly Vulnerable

"Could Cause the Entire Power Network to Collapse"

Written by Adam English
Posted March 14, 2014

Eleven months ago, over 100 rounds were fired from high-powered rifles into an electrical substation outside of Silicon Valley.

Within half an hour, and before any police could show up, 17 transformers and 6 circuit breakers were destroyed. It took 27 days to get the substation operational again. No one has ever been caught for the $15.4 million of damage done.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was able to reroute power around the substation and avoid a blackout. At the time, the story was nothing more than a short-lived and bizarre blip on the radar of mainstream news outlets.

Now, we're learning the mysterious attack could be far more ominous than we suspected.

A "previously unreported" Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) internal document shows just how devastating such attacks could be to the entire country, if not the entire world economy.

The Wall Street Journal cited the report, exposing how 30 substations have a disproportionate role in the three major sections of the U.S. power grid.

If a mere nine of these key substations – out of the 55,000 substations in the U.S.A. – were destroyed, it could plunge the entire nation into a blackout that could last weeks, if not months.

If such a small-scale and coordinated attack occurred, virtually all aspects of our modern economy would be devastated.

Crucial services would disappear overnight. Food distribution to cities would be virtually impossible, all business would halt. Hospitals, police stations, fire departments and security systems nationwide would be crippled.

The ensuing chaos would immediately drive the domestic economy into a nose dive. The world economy, intrinsically linked to the U.S., would tumble with it.

It is unknown what the goal of the sniper attack last April was, but the worst case scenario was highlighted at a conference last November as a former PG&E vice president for transmission operations said "these were not amateurs taking potshots."

"My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal,” added Mark Johnson, the former PG&E executive, according to Foreign Policy.

In the wake of the leaked details of the report, the FERC blasted The Wall Street Journal for exposing the internal report, although the newspaper did not give specific details to protect the critical substations.

The FERC ordered a the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to develop physical grid security standards for responses to threats and vulnerabilities the day after the story broke. The new policies are scheduled to be completed within 90 days.

There is a problem though. The FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil, does not have the authority to tell utilities to take specific actions to boost security at their facilities.

Banking Crisis Just Kicked into High Gear