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If this doesn’t worry the hell out of ya…

Posted by Mike @ 11:41 AM Wednesday, 5 October 2016 • Category: Balls The Size Of Church Bells, Big tsimmis, Disasters Near and Far, Hmmm...

You ain’t thinking clearly.

In 2014, we asked, “What can a mere rifle do?” in reference to a standoff attack on a Pacific Gas and Electric power substation in Metcalf, California.

The answer, in that case, was to blow the transformers to hell and gone, and bug out. To date, there has been no arrest in the case; at one time, a DHS official suggested it was an inside job. There have been subsequent attacks, despite attempts to upgrade security; indeed, once, criminals cut through a fence and made off with equipment that was on site — for security upgrades.

Now, there’s been a new rifle attack on a station, in rural Utah. It appears to have been less sophisticated and less persistent than the California attack, but more effective — the attacker or attackers blew the station off the grid with as few as three rifle shots.

Read on for the wholly laughable “security” measures put into place; they’re a forlorn echo of the sort of DHS/TSA security theater we’ve all become used to at airports, ports, and former borders.

The question, as WeaponsMan says, is: how exactly DO you prevent such attacks? Is it even possible to do so?

Finally, the problem with “security” is that it comes down to a mall cop sitting night-in night-out at a bank of computer screens.

Want El Al security? You have to spend El Al money and hire El Al level of people.

How likely does anybody think that is, until after it’s way too late?

The truly worrying thing to ponder, though is this: whether it’s a Muslim terrorist or a domestic variant doing it, if you wanted to spark some real civil unrest and concomitant tragedy—the sort of thing that could easily and quickly lead to a broad and irreparable rip in the fabric of society—I can’t think of a more effective way to do it than to shut the power grid down for even a not-so-comparatively-long period. Might take more than a few rifle shots to do it; then again, it might not.

Sort of makes the #BlackLiesMurder rioters look like pikers all of a sudden, don’t it? But then, if whoever is doing this DOES have, shall we say, a deeper agenda, then he’s already proved himself to be way smarter than those feeble stupes are, just by his choice of targets.

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  1.  
    10/5/2016 | 1:49 PM
     
    Taking out transformers is pretty easy-- they're big tanks full of oil. Drain the oil and they overheat and shut down (new ones) or blow up (old ones). This isn't really a big deal as it's fairly quick and easy to replace them, and it's not possible to take out a large chunk of a given service area without shooting a LOT of transformers.

    Right now, this sort of thing is akin to hillbillies shooting pole isolators-- it doesn't happen frequently enough to warrant preventing it. If it were to happen more frequently, it's not that difficult to armor the more vulnerable components at remote regional substations. The cost of replacing equipment needs to be close to or in excess of the cost to armor things before that happens.

    You can not drop large sections of the grid via conventional means. It's just not possible. The concept of a few tangos with rifles being able to do anything like that is fantasy. Yes, you can inconvenience a few hundred or a few thousand people for a couple days, but that's about the extent of it.

    In order to drop large segments of the grid, you would have to take out some pretty critical substations, and you would have to do so with very large amounts of explosives (thousands of pounds) to shut anything down for any length of time. Those substations tend to be near population centers, are staffed and are to one degree or other protected.

    A few times in not that distant history we've had cascade failures in the Northeast-- those events are extremely rare and many measures have been put in place to reduce or eliminate the possibility of something like that happening again. While some parts of the grid could stand to be upgraded, it's not like it was designed by idiots. Nor is it maintained by them.

  2.  
    JTwig
    10/5/2016 | 2:08 PM
     
    I imagine this would be rather effective, by that I mean causing the most distress for the least amount of effort, in many Northern states in a few months. I know a lot of people in cities that can only heat their homes with their furnace, and don't even own portable propane heaters. Without power those furnaces won't be worth a dam.
  3.  
    Deserttrek
    10/5/2016 | 2:47 PM
     
    @Mr. Lion
    the problem is large transformers are custom built for the application. Some can require can require a year lead time and many are made in brazil, korea and mexico. Virginia Transformers here in the USA is a big player.
  4.  
    10/5/2016 | 2:52 PM
     
    @Deserttrek

    The transformers in question are not "large" on a grid scale, they're small ~3-10kVA regional units. Large in my world are 10-100MVA units, which aren't sitting out in a field in the sticks somewhere, and for which there are many spares.

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