Schumer Calls for Increased Security at US Power Plants

Image: Schumer Calls for Increased Security at US Power Plants

Monday, 17 Feb 2014 01:29 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Following the 2013 attack on a California power plant, Sen. Charles Schumer is pushing for tougher security at power plants across the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The fact that these snipers were able to inflict so much damage — and that they are still out there — means we need to rethink the way we implement security measures at our power plants. This is not something that we can rely on the utility industry to do," Schumer said Sunday, according to the Journal.

Snipers cut telephone cables and knocked out 17 transformers in the April 16 attack at the Pacific Gas & Electric's Metcalf transmission substation in San Jose.

The Journal reported earlier this month that then-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff characterized it as “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the U.S. power grid ever occurred."

On Sunday, according to the Journal, Schumer said that the nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation creates and approves any nationwide safety measures, which are then sent to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cannot, on its own, enact new rules.

Schumer has said he sent a letter to the FERC and the Department of Homeland Security requesting stricter security standards.

"I write to urge that your agencies act quickly to develop and enforce more stringent standards regarding physical security at substations and other critical facilities necessary to ensure the reliability of the bulk electric power system," he wrote.

Pacific Gas & Electric has announced plans to install opaque walls and enhance security measures at multiple substations, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The upgraded security may result in a rate increase for the utility’s customers.

According to the Pacific Gas & Electric website, the utility services 5.1 million electric customer accounts.

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