Corporation Commissioners Request Information About Electrical Tower Security

March 12, 2014

The Arizona Corporation Commission is pressuring utilities to provide information about the security of their electrical transformers. The commission’s chairman said the infrastructure is vulnerable to vandalism or terrorist acts.

Chairman Bob Stump and Commissioner Bob Burns have sent a letter to APS, SRP, Tucson Electric Power and Grand Canyon Electric Cooperative. It asks for detailed lists of their security measures. Stump said he wants to know more about how the utilities are prepared for a cyber or physical attack against the substations and towers that carry electrical lines across Arizona and other states.

"As it stands right now most transformers in the United States are simply protected by a chain link fence and needless to say that sort of protection is not sufficient,” said Stump. 

He said he became concerned after somebody shot and damaged 17 transformers with a high-powered rifle in northern California last year. Stump said if only a few substations were severely damaged in a future attack, millions of people could lose power for days or months. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect the concern is for the security of transformers located at substations on the electrical grid.

Updated 3/21/2014 at 1:57 p.m.