Two Portland Area Power Substations Damaged
by Eric Mock
BPA said it is stepping up security around its substations for the time being.
Two power substations in the Portland metro area have been deliberately damaged, utility companies say, with both incidents preceding targeted gunfire that damaged substation equipment in North Carolina, leaving thousands without power.
Portland General Electric and the Bonneville Power Administration each had a separate substation location in Clackamas County attacked.
The utilities have not shared specific details of either attack, aside from saying they took place in late November.
The Bonneville incident took place on Thanksgiving morning and did not cause the substation to lose power.
"We have confirmed that this was malicious intent, it was no accident," said BPA spokesperson Doug Johnson.
PGE said the attack on its station did briefly cut power, but officials said the company was able to restore it quickly.
A PGE spokesperson offered the following statement:
PGE is aware of a deliberate physical attack on one of our substations in the Clackamas area that occurred in late November. We are actively cooperating with the FBI and cannot at this time share many details about this incident as it is currently under investigation.KATU reached out to the FBI, and a spokesperson said they are also not going to comment on any of its investigations.
Extremism expert Dr. Randall Blazak said federal authorities are on high alert. The Department of Homeland Security recently sent out a bulletin warning of an increased threat of attack to critical infrastructure, as well as other targets from, "lone offenders and small groups."
"The infrastructure is something that's a relatively soft target, we don't have armed guards outside of power stations," Dr. Blazak said. "We know that these things are relatively easy to access but doing something to them causes this huge ripple effect that they hope to capitalize on."
The federal authorities are right to sort of be on guard, because the goal of these groups is to create chaos. BPA said it is stepping up security around its substations for the time being.
"We actually have increased security around substations in the area just as a precaution to ratchet that up from what we typically do," Johnson said.
When KATU's Eric Mock asked whether there are a need for more permanent protections, Johnson said, "moving forward we'll have to see what the North American Electric Reliability Corporation does in response to this."
KATU reached out to other power companies in the area.
Clark Public Utilities in Southwest Washington said it has not had any recent attacks or threats.
Pacific Power would not specifically confirm or deny any recent attacks or threats but sent us this statement: "We have security measures in place to protect our assets and keep our customers and employees safe and secure. We are working closely with industry partners and law enforcement to monitor the situation and will apply any emerging threat information to evaluate against our security measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of an attack where possible. As always, protecting the grid and ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy are top priorities for the energy industry and Pacific Power."
PacifiCorp Transimssion Network Diagram by PacifiCorp
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