California Power Substation Attacked Again

one of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach on California's central coast

One of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach on California's central coast / AP

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A California power substation that was attacked by a sniper in April 2013 was attacked again, this time by thieves, on Wednesday morning, the New York Times reports.

The substation, near San Jose, Calif., is the source of energy for thousands of customers, and the idea that it was the target of a well-organized attack, and that it might have been disabled for an extended period, raised anxieties about the possible broader vulnerability of the grid. The attack this week did not involve gunfire, and it did not seem intended to disable the facility.

Early Wednesday, an unknown number of thieves cut through a fence and made off with power tools, a pipe bender and ground compactors used to smooth out dirt after excavations, said Keith F. Stephens, a spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric. The substation has an alarm system, but the “fence alarms that went on overnight were not reacted to or addressed in an appropriate manner,” Mr. Stephens said. He added that the problem was a result of “human error.”

No damage was reported by the company.

The 2013 attack is still under investigation.

Damage to the system was the intent in the 2013 incident, but the circumstances remain murky. That attack is still under investigation. The company offered a $250,000 reward around the first anniversary this year for information, but it did not receive any tips and has not paid anyone.

In the 2013 attack, shots were fired into the radiators of giant transformers, disabling but not destroying them. Two manhole covers were removed, and communications lines were cut. The utility said damages came to $15.4 million. Some of the transformers were repaired using components borrowed from other utilities; others had been nearing retirement anyway and were replaced.