Source: sfist & Wall Street Journal
On the morning of April 16th, 2013, a coordinated team of snipers cut phone lines and took out 17 power transformers at a Pacific Gas & Electric substation south of San Jose, CA, causing a near blackout throughout Silicon Valley. According to the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it was the “most significant incident of domestic terrorism” involving the nation’s power grid. No one has been charged or arrested in the attack and the FBI is “continuing to sift through the evidence.”
The Wall Street Journal broke news of the attack today, piecing together a timeline of events that unfolded in the middle of the night, just yards from Highway 101:
The attack began just before 01:00 AM, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.
Within half an hour, 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.
The team of gunmen knew what they were doing in the caper, too. They targeted oil-filled cooling systems that bled out until the transformers overheated and crashed rather than targeting the explosion-prone transformers themselves. The crash triggered an alarm at a PG&E control center 90 miles away, but responding police officers couldn’t get past a locked fence and assumed everything was fine, leaving shortly before 02:00 AM.
Electric-grid officials, meanwhile, scrambled to avoid a blackout by re-routing power from other plants in Silicon Valley. It still took utility workers nearly a month to bring the Metcalf Transmission station back online.
PG&E’s official statement claimed it was the work of vandals, but made no mention of the nearly 100 fingerprint-free shell casings that were found at the scene.
Former FERC Chairman, Jon Wellinghoff, saw fit to go public with the details after military experts confirmed the scene looks like a professional job.
At a recent security conference, one former PG&E Vice President of Transmission put it bluntly: “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 said in a presentation. “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned, and they targeted certain components.”
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