Vandalism and sabotage of utilities is currently on the rise in the United States, prompted by domestic extremism. Bad actors have seemingly identified blackouts as an opportunity to sow unrest, and communities are paying the price nationwide. In fact, the nation’s critical infrastructure is experiencing a decade-high surge in attacks. According to the US General Accounting Office, in the first 8 months of 2022, the U.S. electrical grid was physically attacked 107 times.
In December 2022, a North Carolina community suffered the impact of utilities vandalism, with around 40,000 customers losing power after two power substations were damaged. Further, multiple power stations in Western Washington and Oregon were also targeted in December, causing widespread electrical outages. These recent attacks—and those reported throughout 2022—highlight the growing concerns regarding the vulnerability of the nation’s electric grid to vandalism and other threats.
The U.S. power grid is an expansive target, with hundreds of thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines and tens of thousands of transmission substations. However these perpetrators seem to be expanding their targets, with an attack occuring this month on the MGM Mega Solar Array facility. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Following an incident at the Mega Solar Array facility, on-site personnel immediately notified authorities and shut down the plant’s operations as a precaution in accordance with industry-standard safety protocols.”
As physical security threats continue to accelerate, utilities industry players are advised to adopt a more robust defense-in-depth approach to physical security and modernize their systems. Convergint’s team of experts can integrate a system to harden devices and support mitigating risks associated with utilities infrastructure. Convergint’s utilities specialists follow a methodical process of evaluating the current physical security program, reassessing the current implementation strategies and enhancing detection, deterrence, delay, and increasing early assessment.