PG&E to Spend $100M to Upgrade Security After Substation Breach

A security firm will now monitor Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf substation following a string of security breaches.

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has hired a security company to monitor a substation that serves Silicon Valley following a string of security breaches that have cost the utility millions.

The attacks also raised concerns about protection of the nation’s electric grid, prompting federal regulators to approve new rules mandating utilities to protect important transmission substations and other equipment from physical attacks.

In April 2013, unidentified gunmen attacked PG&E’s Metcalf substation, near San Jose, Calif., causing more than $15 million in damage that took almost a month to repair, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In response to the attack, PG&E hired security guards to monitor the site. However, in August 2014, the substation was hit again by thieves, who cut through fences and stole $38,000 of tools and equipment.

PG&E officials told state regulators that the security guards failed to make rounds and ignored fence alarms, allowing the intruders to escape without being challenged by security guards or police.

The incident has incited the utility to add more security staffing at the substation. Additionally, the newly hire security company will monitor alarms at a security control center.

PG&E, which was in the process of installing more cameras and lights at the substation when the second incident occurred, plans to spend $100 million on security upgrades to several important locations within the next three years.

State regulators are currently evaluating the effectiveness of PG&E’s plan.

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