An Oregon consortium works to fortify the electrical grid
Between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on May 16, 2013, a well-coordinated assault was launched against an electrical substation in Northern California that supplies the Silicon Valley with power.
One or more people entered manholes at the Metcalf substation and cut fiber cables, knocking out communications, according to various reports. Then, the intruder or intruders fired more than 100 rounds from high-powered rifles into the substation, knocking out 17 of the 23 transformers. It took almost a month to repair the substation and bring it back online.
The event received little public attention at the time. A blackout was avoided when power was rerouted around the site and other California power plants ramped up production. The utility that owned the substation, Pacific Gas & Electric, downplayed the incident as vandalism.
Then, in December 2013, two things happened. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., brought up the attack on the power station at a congressional hearing on regulatory issues. And Foreign Policy magazine wrote an article about it, describing it as a “military-style raid” and noting that the FBI was investigating it. Within the next two months, the Wall Street Journal, CNN and a handful of other media outlets followed up with stories of their own.