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Thread: Govt Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down 18 Months

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    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Govt Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down 18 Months

    Government Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down For 18 Months

    By Michael Snyder, on March 18th, 2014

    What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year? Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly. But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye? According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day. The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations. If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult. And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
    When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest report, I was absolutely floored...
    "Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer."
    Wow.
    What would you do without power for 18 months?
    FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast. What they found was quite unsettling...
    In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go dark if as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.
    The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.
    So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time? The following list comes from one of my previous articles...
    -There would be no heat for your home.
    -Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
    -Your computer would not work.
    -There would be no Internet.
    -Your phones would not work.
    -There would be no television.
    -There would be no radio.
    -ATM machines would be shut down.
    -There would be no banking.
    -Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
    -Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.
    -Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
    -Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
    -Hospitals would not be able to function.
    -You would quickly start running out of medicine.
    -All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
    If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary "American Blackout" some time. It will chill you to your bones.
    The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time. We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.
    Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it...
    "The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive," said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. "That's got to be the focus going forward."
    If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.
    In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations. Here is just one example
    The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
    The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
    Have you heard about that attack before now?
    Most Americans have not.
    But it should have been big news.
    At the scene, authorities found "more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings", and little piles of rocks "that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots."
    So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?
    It could happen.
    In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
    For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given "the keys to the Internet" to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?
    It's true. The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian...
    The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn't easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer's, expense.
    What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet's version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you'd have to enter "77.91.251.10" instead of theguardian.com.
    If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the "reset button" on the Internet.
    Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities. In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time
    A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) details widespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.
    The report, released on Tuesday, found that approximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”
    “In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”
    Yikes.
    And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks "every minute of every day"...
    Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
    Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
    For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled "Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks 'Every Minute Of Every Day'".
    Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.
    But at some point that will change.
    Are you prepared for that to happen?
    We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable. In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war. Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.
    At this point, even NASA is warning that "civilization could collapse"...
    A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
    Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
    So let us hope for the best.
    But let us also prepare for the worst.

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    March 18th, 2014 | Tags: Electrical Grid, Electrical Substations, Infrastructure, Internet, Michael T. Snyder, Power Grid, Power Grid Security, Terrorists | Category: Commentary

    http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/a...-for-18-months
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    Freedom Outpost

    Federal Regulators Leaked US Electrical Grid Classified Information : Freedom Outpost http://ow.ly/vJHrh



    Federal Regulators Leaked US Electrical Grid Classified Information -...

    Classified information about the physical security systems of the U.S. electrical grid was leaked by the country's top energy regulatory...

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    Federal Regulators Leaked US Electrical Grid Classified Information

    Michael Bastasch 8 Hours Ago
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    Classified information about the physical security systems of the U.S. electrical grid was leaked by the country's top energy regulatory commission, according to a government watchdog report.
    The Energy Department inspector general reports that classified information about electrical grid security was mishandled by officials on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the nation's grid regulator.
    The IG found that at least one FERC presentation contained information that should have been classified, was handled by commission employees who did not have proper clearance and was given to federal and industry representatives in non-classified settings.
    "As you are aware, the materials in question raise concerns with the security and integrity of our Nation's critical energy infrastructure, including the Nation's power grid," the IG reported. "We are especially concerned with reports that the document that was not properly classified and may currently be stored on unclassified Commission servers, as well as on current and former Commission employees' desktop computers, laptops, portable electronic devices, and copiers."
    The report comes in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report that the government was investigating an April 2013 attack on a power substation near San Jose, California where gunmen did millions of dollars' worth of damage and nearly took out the power to the region.
    Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski wrote to the Energy Department's IG last month to find out how classified information was leaked to the WSJ and for the watchdog to examine the legal responsibility that former FERC commissioners and employees have to keep sensitive grid information secret.
    "This was a dangerous leak of highly sensitive information that should have been classified and closely guarded," Murkowski said in a statement following the release of the IG's report.
    "Unfortunately, it's now clear that under its previous leadership, FERC mishandled information that should have been classified," she added. "At best, a disclosure such as this has national security implications. At worst, it could endanger us all."
    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur "indicated to us that she has reviewed the management alert and has instructed Commission staff to implement its recommendations promptly, and to give them top priority," according to the IG's report. The IG's review of the electrical grid leaks is ongoing.
    The attack on the Metcalf power substation in April 2013 came very close to shutting down the electrical grid for Silicon Valley. The WSJ reported that in the 30 minute attack "snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night."
    "This wasn't an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation," Mark Johnson, a retired vice president of transmission for the utility PG&E, the company operating the Metcalf substation. "This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components."
    Regulators and the utility industry have long worried about the physical security of the U.S. electrical grid, but there is disagreement on how much more can be done to keep the grid safe. FERC has already required utilities to establish minimum security standards for the grid.
    "I don't want to downplay the scenario [a former FERC commissioner] describes," Gerry Cauley, chief executive of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a body that reports to FERC. "I'll agree it's possible from a technical assessment."
    Cauley said that even if some substation were taken offline, most people would have their power back within a few hours. A more pressing worry form utilities is the threat of cyber attack on the grid. There have been 13 reported cyber incidents in the last three years, according to the WSJ, though no major outages have yet been linked to these events.
    The WSJ also notes that there were "274 significant instances of vandalism or deliberate damage in the three years, and more than 700 weather-related problems."
    Source
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    http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/04/fe...d-information/

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    Another Attack Discovered at an Electricity Substation Near the Border — and One Congressman Says It’s ‘Only a Matter of Time’ Before More Attackers ‘Exploit This Vulnerability’

    Jun. 16, 2014 8:59am Elizabeth Kreft
    11.9K Shares

    A 50,000 gallon diesel fuel tank at a critical transformer substation south of Tucson near a border town that has been the center of immigration news lately was the target of an attack last week, but the make-shift bomb failed to cause a major explosion or power outage.
    More than 30,000 Arizona residents could have been stripped of all access to power for their homes and businesses, for an unknown period of time, if the explosive device had knocked out their critical transformer substation.


    FBI Bomb technicians respond to the Nogales transmission plant after an incendiary device was found at the critical electricity facility, which services 30,000 people in the surrounding area (Image source: Nogales International).

    Instead, the device — roughly described by local police as a homespun device that could fit in the palm of your hand — failed to ignite the diesel fuel in one of the storage tanks for four back-up power generators housed at the site.
    “On the morning of June 11th, an employee discovered that a hole bad been cut in the fence of a substation that serves Nogales AZ and that the remains of a crude incendiary device was found at the base of a diesel fuel tank,” Joe Salkowski, UniSource Energy Services spokesman told TheBlaze.
    Reports last week indicated a large explosion had occurred at the plant, but Salkowski said, “The device caused a small, temporary fuel leak and blackened a small section of the surface of the tank, but did not cause any serious damage to the fuel tank.”
    The targeted facility is an electric substation just a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, that provides service to the city of Nogales and the surrounding areas. Most of the power delivered to the customers comes through that substation by way of a transmission line — the large electric cables you see lining the highway and crossing the country — that links the Nogales plant to a larger substation the Tucson area.
    “They were able to gain access to the facility illegally,” Nogales police Lt. Carlos Jimenez said. “They had some working knowledge of what that tank is or how it works.”
    The 138-kilovolt transmission step-down facility isn’t responsible for generating power for the area; it takes power transmitted through the larger electricity lines and “steps” it down, or lowers the voltage, so it can be used by consumers. When sending power from generation facilities to communities that use it, the voltage must be “stepped up” to make it across the long distances.
    However, UniSource Energy Services, a subsidiary of UNS Energy Corporation and owner of the Valencia Plant, does maintain four small combustion turbine generators at the Nogales plant, which can be operated on natural gas or diesel fuel, to provide back-up power in case of emergency or during peak usage times. Those diesel storage tanks were the target of the June 11 attack.
    Local police said they believe the saboteurs got into the substation sometime between 4 p.m. Tuesday, when maintenance workers locked it and left, and 8 a.m. Wednesday, when workers returned to monitor the plant, Arizona Central reported.
    “It seems only a matter of time before more sophisticated and perhaps more malevolent enemies seek to exploit this vulnerability…”

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    Nogales officials called the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Department of Public Safety for help. Special Agent Perryn Collin, a spokesperson for the Phoenix division of the FBI, told TheBlaze “the investigation is ongoing” and “it will be a while before we release anything; several investigative leads need to be covered,” but said they are working in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s office as well as the ATF on the case.
    “The reason for the high-scale response is the plant is an electrical substation and critical to the area,” Jimenez said Thursday. ”The whole city of Nogales could have been compromised.”
    Nogales has been at the center of recent media coverage after pictures surfaced showing nearly a thousand immigrant children stuffed into its border facility.
    Police identified no suspects or witnesses, and said there were no signs of vandalism common with domestic extremist groups such as the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, according to Arizona Central. The FBI has designated the ELF as a domestic terrorism group, which the bureau blames for arson attacks on homes, power facilities and other symbols of urbanization.
    But utilities providers across the nation were reminded of their vulnerability to sabotage in April 2013, when attackers cut emergency communication lines to a crucial transformer substation for Silicon Valley before shooting sniper rifles at the extra high voltage transformers for 19 minutes.
    The San Jose attack was described as “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred,” by then-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff and it took 27 days to get the substation back online.
    Salkowski told TheBlaze the Nogales plant operations were not affected by the incendiary device’s damage.
    When compared side-by-side, the San Jose incident was an example of a coordinated, calculated attack, while the Nogales incident could be considered unsophisticated, especially since the attackers failed to understand diesel fuel has a high flash point and is difficult to ignite.
    But lawmakers and utilities providers are eager to see more attention paid to this brand of domestic attack before thousands are affected.



    J.D. Wallace @JDWallaceKOLD
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    The device was found at the base of the more distant of two tanks in pic. No explosion but device did ignite.
    10:17 PM - 11 Jun 2014


    “It’s unclear whether these are sophisticated attacks or not, but they illustrate the growing awareness of America’s vulnerability related to the grid,”Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), told TheBlaze. ”It seems only a matter of time before more sophisticated and perhaps more malevolent enemies seek to exploit this vulnerability,”
    Rep. Franks has two bills, CIPA and the SHIELD Act, awaiting subcommittee vetting in the House which would bolster electric utility resilience against physical attacks and natural disasters.
    TheBlaze asked Salkowski if UniSource Energy Services had security cameras rolling during the incident Wednesday, and what – if any – security upgrades the company was planning.
    “We are currently reviewing security in place at that facility as well as others in the area in hopes of identifying potential upgrades or anything that could be done to prevent similar incidents in the future,” he said.

    (H/T: Arizona Central)
    Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.

    We will be discussing this story and all the day’s news on our live BlazeCast with Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker (@bakerlink) beginning at 3:00pm ET:


    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014...ulnerability/#
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    The Federalist Papers

    Do you think our domestic energy grid is at risk from terrorists? If so what are you doing to prepare for contingencies?



    SHOCK: Another Attack On An Electricity Substation Near Border; It's Only A Matter Of Time...
    This is the second attack against the grid in the past few months. While the two...
    thefederalistpapers.org

    Another Attack On An Electricity Substation Near The Border; It’s Only A Matter Of Time Before They Succeed

    By Steve Straub On June 16, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In US, Video



    This is the second attack against the grid in the past few months. While the two incidents do not appear to be related they are a wake up call for us all. Be prepared to survive for up to 30 days or more without power, just in case..

    Via AZ Central.com:
    The FBI is investigating whether a makeshift bomb placed next to a 50,000-gallon diesel tank at an Arizona power station Wednesday has any connection to a suspicious incident this year at another substation owned by the same company.
    New details are emerging from the Nogales, Ariz., attack, which caused minor damage and no injuries.
    Contrary to initial accounts, the bomb did not explode. Nogales police Lt. Carlos Jimenez described it as a crude incendiary device that could fit in a person’s hand. It was placed under the valve of the diesel tank and ignited, charring the steel tank.
    “They were able to gain access to the facility illegally,” Jimenez said. “They had some working knowledge of what that tank is or how it works.”
    The attackers failed to understand that diesel has a high flash point and is difficult to ignite.

    Arizona officials have been on increased alert to the risk to power facilities in recent months.
    That’s largely because of a sophisticated attack on a large plant south of San Jose in April 2013. The Wall Street Journal publicized a detailed account of the assault in February describing how saboteurs cut telephone lines into the plant. Then they “surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers” by shooting at them with sniper rifles for 19 minutes, the Journal reported.
    It took 27 days to return the substation to normal, and the attack was described by Jon Wellinghoff, then-chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”


    Watch the video:

    Video at the page link:


    Do you think our domestic energy grid is at risk from terrorists? If so what are you doing to prepare for contingencies?

    http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/u...matter-of-time
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