Wall Street Journal examines sniper attack on San Jose power plant

February 5, 2014

The Wall Street Journal published a piece yesterday that looks deeply at an apparent sniper attack on a power station in San Jose that apparently occurred in April.

As a journalist, I pride myself in keeping as on top of the news as I can, but somehow this one completely passed me by. Apparently I’m not alone in that, however. The incident occurred in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, when all national eyes were focused there. Not only that, but at the time, it was treated as “just a shooting.” Now, however, federal officials say it may have been an incident of terrorism.

Here’s the WSJ piece in excerpt:

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, 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.

With over 160,000 miles of transmission lines, the U.S. power grid is designed to handle natural and man-made disasters, as well as fluctuations in demand. How does the system work? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.’s PCG -0.27%Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

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One Response to Wall Street Journal examines sniper attack on San Jose power plant

  1. February 18, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Cindy: I’m linking up to Show and Tell Friday. Thank you for hoinstg? If you don’t mind me asking, do you live near or in the SC Mountains. I’m an old Soquel girl and, as it happens, we are going to be down there on that weekend to do a garage sale for Breast Cancer at my daughter’s. I’m hoping I’ll have time to stop by. Sounds like a great sale..Happy Mother’s Day..Judy

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