Published April 11, 2014
PG&E (PCG) is offering a $250,000 reward for leads that help investigators track down the people responsible for last year’s attack on a substation in California.
The attack, which was first uncovered by a Wall Street Journal report in February, heightened concerns over the security of power stations and the nation’s electric grid. Investigators believe the attack last April was carried out by multiple gunmen who opened fire on the PG&E’s Metcalf Transmission Substation near San Jose, Calif.
In order to prevent a blackout, officials rerouted power around Metcalf and requested that nearby power plants produce more electricity. It took nearly a month for the substation to restart operations.
PG&E said Thursday it has worked closely with federal, state and local agencies to improve the security of its substations. As part of that effort, security guards are providing 24/7 coverage at power plants, and the company is using enhanced camera technology and increased lighting to catch trespassers.
“We are committed to taking aggressive action to ensure that our facilities are protected so we can continue to deliver safe, reliable and affordable service to our customers,” said Geisha Williams, executive vice president of electric operations for PG&E.
The San Francisco-based utilities operator plans to invest about $100 million in substation security over the next three years. PG&E’s security plans include “enhanced intruder detection systems and buffer zones through additional fencing,” the company said.
PG&E is seeking “information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s)” in exchange for the reward. Williams said PG&E hopes the reward will help “bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.”
When news of the attack surface, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred,” according to the Journal.
FERC, which regulates the U.S. electric grid, is working to restrict public disclosure of information that may compromise the security of power facilities.
A report this week from the Energy Department’s Inspector General questioned FERC’s handling of sensitive material, suggesting at least one FERC presentation on the power grid should have been classified. On Thursday, acting chairman Cheryl LaFleur told lawmakers she ordered an internal review following the report.