Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks -- or groups of transformers -- were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman. . . .
The FBI has taken over the case. There appears to have been some initial concern, or at least interest, in the fact that the shooting happened one day after the Boston Marathon bombing. But the FBI has no evidence that the attack is related to terrorism, and it appears to be an isolated incident, said Peter Lee, a spokesman for the FBI field office in San Francisco, which is leading the investigation. Lee said the FBI has “a couple of leads we’re still following up on,” which he wouldn’t discuss in detail. There has not been any published motive or intent for the attack, the intelligence official said, and no one has claimed credit.The attack might not be related to the 2013 attack on the Boston Marathon but it wasn’t the only attack on a power facility to occur around the same time.
CBS News reported on April 22, 2013 that the FBI was investigating an attack on a Tennessee nuclear power facility:
An East Tennessee nuclear power plant has added security patrols after a weekend incident in which an officer exchanged gunfire with a man who then fled on a boat.There have been other recent attacks on power facilities in the U.S. The New York Times reported in October 2013 that, “Power Grid Is Attacked in Arkansas.”
And there have been reports of attacks on power facilities in Mexico as well.
Threats of terrorist activities against U.S. power facilities are nothing new and while the attacks above might not have any relation to terrorism (or one another) they should serve as a reminder of the vulnerabilities that remain against U.S. infrastructure.