Terrorist Threat to Electric Grid Is Overblown
(p. A13) On April 16, 2013, TV stations in Northern California reported a rifle attack on the Metcalf substation near San Jose along with the cutting of a nearby fiber-optic line.
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One expert suggested if the assault were widely replicated around the country, it could take down the grid. Well, yes, but it would require an army. Every substation is different and would have to be scouted separately. And wouldn't such an army be keen not to give away its presence? And why, if a terrorist had dozens of trained and disciplined fighters to deploy inside the U.S., would their target be utility substations?
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One agency that wasn't overselling the terrorist threat was the FBI, perhaps because the FBI investigates so many such attacks. Until the Metcalf incident is solved, any motive anyone cares to suggest will be plausible. PG&E has been a hate target of paranoiacs who believe smart meters cause cancer. The substation serves Silicon Valley, which lately has been accruing class enemies from San Francisco "progressives." Eco-radicals have been quoting Ted Kaczynski for years on the need to attack the vital systems of industrial society. And, yes, the odd al Qaeda enthusiast exists in our midst. So do 15-year-old males with a surfeit of testosterone.
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(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 11, 2014, and the title "Bull's-Eye on the Utility System; There's nothing new about people shooting out the lights.")