The Threat of Terrorism to the National Power Grid: How to Protect Ourselves
As we’ve seen in recent years, the national power grid is more vulnerable than ever before. Severe weather events, cyberattacks, and the push for green energy have all highlighted the importance of a resilient national power grid. Unfortunately, the threats to the power grid have become more serious as extremist groups have been attempting to target and attack power stations.
Just last week, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office officials in Baltimore announced they had arrested two individuals, a man and a woman, with extremist views who were allegedly attempting to attack the power grid in Maryland. Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 34, of Catonsville, Maryland, and Brandon Clint Russell, 27, of Orlando, Florida, are charged through a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility.
The FBI believes this was a “real threat” that had been thwarted. Clendaniel allegedly told an FBI confidential source that she planned to target five substations including in Norrisville, Reisterstown and Perry Hall. She was even seen wearing tactical gear containing a swastika, holding a rifle and with a pistol in a drop holster on her left leg.
Clendaniel allegedly said that if they hit a number of substations all in the same day, they “would completely destroy this whole city.” She further added, “[i]t would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully.”
The FBI has since revealed the two defendants were in separate prisons for past crimes and communicated online. In messages, Clendaniel allegedly referenced Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Hitler. She was in a Maryland prison for robbing convenience stores with a machete, and Russell was in prison for holding bomb making materials.
The FBI is also currently investigating whether recent power grid attacks in North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon are related.
The threat of terrorism to our national power grid is real, and it is important that we take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. We need to be vigilant and work together with law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and disrupt any potential threats to the safety of our citizens. We also need to be aware of the potential consequences of a successful attack, which could leave thousands of people in the dark and without power.
It is also important to note that the utility sector has an enormous price tag when it comes to protecting energy assets. Utility customers would have to pay for these costs, so it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect ourselves.
We are thankful for the FBI’s vigilance and the precautions taken to protect the electric grid for our customers and employees. By continuing to work together and stay vigilant, we can ensure that our national power grid remains safe and secure.