- Though last year's attack on the PG&E Metcalf substation shut down 17 transformers, caused damages estimated at $15 million, and exposed the vulnerability of the U.S. transmission system, it did not meet the FBI’s definition of terrorism.
- The attack was most likely the work of a disgruntled former employee with a rifle, according to the FBI, because no terrorist group claimed credit and there was no evidence of a political or social agenda.
During the attack, the attacker cut fiber-optic communication lines with wire-cutters in an inadequately protected vault shortly after midnight. The attacker then inflicted the damage by firing approximately 120 rifle shots from a distance of 60 yards through fences at the PG&E facility just south of San Jose on Highway 101, missing building-sized targets frequently while personnel inside were unable to phone for help.
A $250,000 reward has led to no arrests and, despite PG&E’s commitment of $100 million over the next three years to harden critical facilities, including the building of a wall around Metcalf, someone cut through the substation’s fence last month and stole saws, drills and other construction equipment.
No PG&E customers lost power as a result of the attack but then-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chair Jon Wellinghoff called it "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the [U.S.] grid that has ever occurred."
In July, FERC directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to improve its proposed Reliability Standard for the most-critical Bulk-Power System facilities and reduce the overall vulnerability of the grid to attacks. FERC, which has authority to call for revisions but cannot rewrite the utility-dominated NERC’s measures, asked NERC, which is assigned by Congress to write grid reliability measures, to broaden the definition of equipment and facilities and to allow federal designation of facilities eligible for increased security.