Power Grid Attacks Are Increasing

It’s challenging enough for the United States to protect itself against foreign enemies. But when domestic terrorists get into the act, the situation becomes even more concerning.

It appears U.S.-based criminals are responsible for the huge increase in physical attacks against America’s power grids. In 2022, those types of attacks increased by 77% over 2021. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

If that’s not scary enough, how about this? The Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which documents threats against the electrical system, says the attacks will continue and perhaps increase.  

Their officials say, “The recent uptick in serious physical security incidents is likely to continue” in 2023. That’s “based on the number and nature of recent attacks, combined with the overall current heightened threat environment.” 

On Pace for Another Record

In the first six months of this year, 94 physical and computerized threats or assaults were reported. That’s also according to the Energy Department. This means the U.S. is on pace to pass the record-164 incidents reported in 2022. 

Among those recent attacks were two occurring in Michigan in May and June. More than 5,500 customers were affected. In March, 11,000 lost power in Clark County, Nevada following a physical attack against the grid. 

People in the Baltimore area may have dodged a bullet recently. In February, two people were indicted by a federal grand jury. That’s after they allegedly plotted to attack five power stations in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In order to “lay waste” to Baltimore. 

And in January, two others were charged. That was in connection with attacks on substations in Pierce County, Washington. More than 14,000 customers in Tacoma lost power. Damages were estimated at $3 million. And repairs were expected to take up to three years.

It’s Happening Across the Country

Approximately 45,000 people were left in the dark for several days in December 2022. Due to deliberate shootings of electrical distribution substations in Moore County, North Carolina. A state of emergency was declared. 

That was just one of many incidents last year. The Midwest and Pacific Northwest also saw its share of terrorist activities connected to the grid.

Perhaps the most significant attack ever against the U.S. electrical grid occurred in 2013. Gunmen fired on 17 electrical transformers in Coyote, California near the San Jose border. 

They caused more than $15 million in damages. Ten years later, no arrests have been made in connection with this assault.

Plenty of Terror Tactics 

To disrupt the electrical service, criminals are getting creative.  

Like “throwing objects at electrified equipment and components to cause de-energization.” 

And “focused ballistic attacks aimed at de-energizing equipment or causing fires by targeting a specific area of a specific opponent.”

Once inside the perimeter of these electrical facilities, they may enter control houses to damage or destroy equipment, set fires, or tamper with switches.    

Extremists Have Different Motivations 

Because many power stations are located in remote areas, security has been lacking. Groups plotting these attacks know the odds of them being caught are small.

Their motivations vary. Some hate America and what it stands for. They are trying to disturb the American way of life as much as possible. Some are radical environmentalists trying to bring attention to their causes.

Others have admitted they wanted to shut off power to make burglaries easier to pull off. Some were intent on stealing items from these facilities. Including copper, tools, and catalytic converters.

Still others belong to supremacist groups that believe society will collapse if the grid goes down. They’d like to see a new nationalist government replace the current one. Extremist messaging boards contain details on how to carry out these types of attacks.

Kenneth Wainstein is undersecretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He said that “some of these shootings are also being done by domestic violent extremists.”

Security Only Part of Solution 

Additional security is one obvious answer to the problem. But it is extremely expensive. There are more than 24,000 electric generators located at about 12,000 utility-scale electric power plants in the U.S. 

That’s one reason some experts don’t believe increased security is the best answer to this problem. Brian Harrell is the former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS.

“It’s important to note that new fencing, cameras, or better lighting isn’t going to prevent attacks,” he said. “They will continue to happen. 

“This is why we must invest in resilience, adding redundancy, and removing single points of failure. Certain attacks on critical infrastructure should be legally treated as domestic terrorism.”

The Key Is Self-Protection

Here’s the brutal truth. The government is incapable of making every power station secure. And they usually can’t catch the attackers.

Extremists are aware of the disruption they can cause by attacking vulnerable power stations. And they know the odds of arrest are slim. 

What we need to remember is how much our lives are affected by power outages caused by these attacks, not to mention extreme weather. No lighting in our homes… heat and air conditioning not working… food spoiling in the fridge and freezer.

It’s up to us to take control and make sure we can at least power up some of our devices when these inevitable outages occur.


  • Warren Smith - September 18, 2023

    I just happened to come across this youtube clip regarding our power grid.
    Dennis Quaid narrates it.

    I think they said it will be available sometime this month on Amazon.

  • Doloris Reed - September 18, 2023

    Tropical Storm Lee took our power out. It was coming up the East Coast.
    Just a short distance from my home a tree knocked the power lines down.
    We did not have power from Saturday 9:45 am until
    Sunday morning at 9:44. Fortunately it was not cold out.
    I got my 1800 Generator out (for the first time). I was able to plug in a lamp for light, and
    I even used my toaster.
    I used my Solantern like a flashlight. Oh, and I used a Power Cell to charge my phone.
    I probably could have used the generator for more things as I get more familiar with it.
    I am so thankful to have 4patriots items.

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