- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked for revisions to the enhanced physical security standard submitted for approval by the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC). It was written in response to the 2013 armed assault on PG&E’s Metcalf substation that threatened Silicon Valley's power supply.
- FERC asked NERC to broaden the definition of equipment and facilities in its plan for heightened protective measures of U.S. transmission infrastructure, and to allow federal designation of facilities eligible for increased security.
- A volley of fire by gunmen assaulting the Metcalf substation, near San Jose, CA, in April 2013, took out a battery of transformers and forced a nearly month-long shutdown for repairs. FERC's analysis showed that taking out as few as nine substations simultaneously could cause a coast-to-coast power outage, which would be very difficult to readily recover from as customized transformers can take a year or more to build and install.
NERC is assigned by Congress to write grid reliability measures and FERC is allowed to call for revisions but cannot rewrite the utility-dominated NERC’s measures.
Acting FERC Chair Cheryl LaFleur said the actions were "an important step toward protecting a critical element of our bulk electric system."
Former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff recently told this reporter it would be hard to intentionally design a transmission system as vulnerable as the U.S. grid, and called for immediate grid strengthening measures.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, representing state utility regulators, has advocated for grid protection efforts to be worked out at the state-level.