State Calls for Grid Awareness

By Published On: April 11, 2014

The California Public Utilities Commission is beefing up its vigilance over the security of electrical substations in the state’s grid in the wake of an armed attack on Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf Substation in San Jose last year and a flurry of activity at the national level. In addition, PG&E offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the attackers April 10. Commission interim safety and enforcement director Denise Tyrrell told commissioners that two of her staff members are getting security clearances so they can receive confidential communications from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies concerning potential threats to the grid. In addition, she noted, the commission has scheduled a two-day meeting beginning June 17 on grid security issues. Commissioner Mike Picker responded that he wants the agency to make sure grid security efforts are effective and avoid duplication between various agencies at the federal and state level. “I’m really concerned we have a real roadmap of how all these efforts fit together,” he remarked. The state’s efforts come as both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp. are developing security standards. Congress also is weighing legislation to set security standards for utilities.

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