PG&E to Spend $100 Million on Security Upgrades After South Bay Substation Attack

PG&E on Wednesday announced plans to spend $100 million to increase security at its electrical substations.

Plans to beef up security come after an attack on a South Bay substation last year, which state regulators are calling a possible act of terrorism.

"This event was clearly a game changer for Pacific Gas and Electric, and the industry," said Ken Wells, PG&E's senior director of substation operations. "No doubt about it."

The PG&E substation on Metcalf Road, just south of San Jose, is much better protected than it was in April 2013, when snipers knocked out 17 giant transformers. But few details have been released as to who might be behind the attack and what their motivation might have been.

PG&E has also offered a $250,000 reward for the capture and conviction of the suspects behind the attack.

The Metcalf assault took out power, cell and landline service, including the 911 system for much of the south county.

Theories behind the attack’s motives have included everything from simple vandalism to terrorism against a vulnerable infrastructure.

The FBI did not classify the attack as terrorism, but in February, a former federal energy chief told the Wall Street Journal that he considered it the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the power grid.

PG&E has already enhanced security at the substation since the attack, deploying more security guards, adding surveillance cameras, lights and fencing.

"Security had been focused within substations," said Joe Molica, PG&E spokesman. "Now it's really about looking out from the fence line."

Wells on Wednesday outlined the company's security upgrades at the California Public Utilities Commission headquarters in San Francisco.

"Our plans include adding opaque fencing and protective barriers so that you don't have a line of sight inside the facilities," he said.

Wells added the upgrades will include enhanced detection and deterrent systems, and improved lighting and camera systems around the facility.

View the archived CPUC meeting online.

Contact Us