Central Oregon DailyReport: Federal memo warns of recent Oregon, Washington substation attacks

Report: Federal memo warns of recent Oregon, Washington substation attacks

Report: Federal memo warns of recent Oregon, Washington substation attacks

Power substation

At least one Oregon power company has confirmed to Central Oregon Daily News that one of its substations was attacked in recent weeks. The news comes after a report indicating that a federal law enforcement memo gave warnings of such a threat.

The report comes days after a shooting at a North Carolina substation which knocked out power to thousands. That shooting is under FBI investigation.

The Oregon attack happened at a PGE substation last month, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“PGE is aware of a deliberate physical attack on one of our substations in the Clackamas area that occurred in late November. We are actively cooperating with the FBI and cannot at this time share many details about this incident as it is currently under investigation. Our teams have assessed the damage and begun repair to the impacted facility,” read a statement from PGE.

The confirmation comes after a law enforcement memo was obtained and published by NewsNation.

“Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using hand tools, arson, firearms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure. … In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment,” the memo reads, according to NewsNation.

Pacific Power did not specifically say if it had recently come under attack or under threat of attack recently.

“We have security measures in place to protect our assets and keep our customers and employees safe and secure. We are working closely with industry partners and law enforcement to monitor the situation and will apply any emerging threat information to evaluate against our security measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of an attack where possible. As always, protecting the grid and ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy are top priorities for the energy industry and Pacific Power,” the company said in a statement.

Mid-State Electric and and Central Electric Co-Op, both of which are also power providers in Central Oregon, indicated they had not been contacted by law enforcement about any specific threats but that they have security measures in place.

Mid-State said it had an incident in June 2019 when someone fired 17 rounds into a substation. No suspects were identified and no motive was determined. 

The FBI didn’t have much to add when contacted by Central Oregon Daily.

“While our standard practice is to decline comment on specific bulletins, the FBI routinely shares information with our law enforcement partners in order to assist in protecting the communities they serve. We urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement,” the FBI Portland office said in a statement.

We’ve also reached out to the Oregon Public Utility Commission, but have yet to hear back.

 

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