Keeping Up With The Preppers

Simple and easy to understand prepping ideas that just may save your life.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Grid Down Scenarios, Sniper Attacks on Large Power Transformers (LPT) and Grid hacking


Most preppers already know about the dreaded EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) weapons, but how many people are aware that on February 5th, 2014, terrorists attempted to take down part of the power grid in California?  Probably not very many since the story was well under reported.

"The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night."

"The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith."

"A blackout was avoided thanks to quick-thinking utility workers, who rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But the substation was knocked out for a month."

"The FBI says it doesn't believe a terrorist organization caused the attack but that it continues to investigate the incident."

"Smith and colleague Tom McGinty assembled a detailed chronology of the attack that includes some amazing details, including more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings similar to ones used by AK-47s that were found at the site and small piles of rocks that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots."

Source: The Wall Street Journal / Business Insider

Snipers armed with high powered rifles would probably be the most likely and low tech way to take down sections of the power grid.  But what if multiple sniper teams attacked these power stations simultaneously?   

In a report published by the United States Department of Energy in June of 2012, it's clear the U.S. government is also worried about aging LPT's and the difficulty in replacing them.

Read the full report at the link below

"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assessed the procurement and supply environment of large power transformers (LPT) 1 in this report. LPTs have long been a major concern for the U.S. electric power sector, because failure of a single unit can cause temporary service interruption and lead to collateral damages, and it could be difficult to quickly replace it." 

"The rising global demand for copper and electrical steel can be partially attributed to the increased power and transmission infrastructure investment in growing economies as well as the replacement market for aging infrastructure in developed countries. The United States is one of the world’s largest markets for power transformers and holds the largest installed base of LPTs— and this installed base is aging. The average age of installed LPTs in the United States is approximately 40 years, with 70 percent of LPTs being 25 years or older. While the life expectancy of a power transformer varies depending on how it is used, aging power transformers are subject to an increased risk of failure. Since the late 1990’s, the United States has experienced an increased demand for LPTs; however, despite the growing need, the United States has had a limited domestic capacity to produce LPTs. In 2010, six power transformer manufacturing facilities existed in the United States, and together, they met approximately 15 percent of the Nation’s demand for power transformers of a capacity rating greater than or equal to 60 MVA. Although the exact statistics are unavailable, global power transformer supply conditions indicate that the Nation’s reliance on foreign manufacturers is even greater for extra high-voltage (EHV) power transformers with a maximum voltage rating greater than or equal to 345 kV."

 Let's hope that improvements have been made since the above report was published. 

Electrical Grid Hacking

Source: Business Insider

"Strong intent. Thankfully, low capability," John Riggi, a section chief in the FBI's cyber division, told CNN about ISIS' hacking attempts.

"But the concern is that they'll buy that capability."

"That concern is warranted, the FBI told CNN. Highly capable hacking software is available for purchase on the black market and could be used to hack networks associated with energy companies, fuel refineries, or water-pumping stations."

Unfortunately, ISIS isn't the only group wanting to do significant damage to the United States. Enemy states such as Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia are just a few countries that would love to cause chaos and destruction in this country. 

That doesn't even include left wing domestic terrorists that are indigenous to the U.S. that are working everyday to cause havoc by any means possible on a grand scale.

Real life zombies above compared with TV zombies below.

Results Of Such Attacks

Such attacks would likely not yield the immediate dramatic results of an EMP where most electronics would be destroyed. Planes wouldn't fall out of the sky and your car wouldn't just stop leaving you stranded. It is believed, however, that eventually, without emergency power, the results would be the same in the long run.

Immediate Results

The immediate results of a hacking attack could possibly be damage to electrical appliances that are plugged in at the time of the attack.  If the LPT's are overloaded, this could cause a huge power surge down the lines. It's possible and hopeful that relay stations would blow out first before reaching the consumer.

Either way, without power, significant damage would already be done to the infrastructure including no food, gas, and eventually water service.

Long Term Effects

I think we all know the long term effects would eventually be exactly the same as an EMP attack. 

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