Attacks on the U.S. power grid rose 71% last year compared to 2021 and are expected to increase, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A confidential industry analysis conducted by a division of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) found that ballistic damage, intrusion, and vandalism largely drove the increase, WSJ reported.
The analysis also found that physical security incidents involving power outages — attributed to people frustrated by the onset of the pandemic, social tensions, and economic challenges — have increased 20% since 2020.
The analysis was conducted by NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC).
E-ISAC’s& study included some nonpublic reports that utilities and grid authorities file with federal agencies or NERC, as well as voluntary disclosures made confidentially, WSJ reported.
Manny Cancel, E-ISAC’s chief executive, told WSJ that the number of politically or ideologically motivated attacks appears to be rising.
“There seems to be a pattern where people are targeting critical infrastructure, probably with the intent to disrupt,” Cancel told WSJ. “Going back to the 2020 presidential election, as well as the recent midterm elections, we’ve seen an uptick in chatter and an uptick in incidents as well.”
Authorities and utility companies have known of the vulnerability of the power grid, with many of its power plants and substations located in remote areas.
Politico in December reported that more than 100 power-grid attacks took place in the U.S. from January to August in 2022, breaking the nation’s record for one year.
In December, two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that left more than 40,000 people without electricity.
Earlier this month, the FBI arrested two people, including a neo-Nazi group leader, for allegedly planning a “racially motivated” attack on Baltimore’s power grid.
Brian Harrell, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security, told WSJ that there has been a notable increase in conversations among extremists about targeting critical infrastructure.
“These groups are talking to each other, and they’re learning from each other,” Harrell said. “It gets a lot of people’s attention when you start turning off the lights, and I think that’s what they’re craving.”
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.