Physical Threats

Physical attack on electric grid infrastructure is not a new phenomenon. Worldwide, this trend is growing exponentially, with terrorist organizations targeting grid infrastructure at an increasingly alarming pace.

Between 2012-1015, the U.S. electrical grid experienced 274 physical attacks. Recently in Arizona, a bomb nearly took out a key transformer substation near Nogales. A senior Obama administration official has said that reports of sabotage against our grid are a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence. Some of these attacks have been perpetrated by highly skilled teams, most notably an attack in California on 16 April 2013.

Had the perpetrators of this attack in California succeeded in knocking out all 18 of the cooling tanks that support the station’s giant transformers, it would have overheated, permanently ruining the massive transformer and resulting in silicon valley being out of power for up to a year.

[April 10, 2014] Electric Grid Security and Reliability Witnesses testified on strategies to increase the reliability and security of the electric grid from cyber and physical attacks. They also discussed the impact of Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gases rules on the availability and price of electricity to consumers. Another topic included the attack on California’s San Jose Medcalf transmission station in 2013. In that incident attackers shot transformers disabling them. No major power outages occurred because officials were able to reroute electricity immediately.