NEWARK - There have been "multiple reports of intrusions at electrical grid facilities in New Jersey" in the past year, and the grid is "inherently vulnerable" to attack, according to a regional security report obtained by Kane In Your Corner.
The report from the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, a division of the New Jersey State Police that works with law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, is unclassified but marked “for official use only.” It cites at least eight cases of intrusions or attempted intrusions at New Jersey substations or switching stations in the past 12 months.
In East Rutherford, the report says intruders cut a hole in the perimeter fence of an electric switching and substation in East Rutherford in January. Someone also cut the chain on the front gate of that same station last October.
In Burlington, an unidentified subject entered a generating station in January using false ID and claiming to have a gun, the report says. An unknown subject also breached the main gate of that switching station last October and stole $1,000 worth of copper wire.
Three unidentified subjects broke into a Jersey City switching station in two separate incidents last summer, according to the report. In one of those cases, a surveillance camera recorded a man wearing gloves and carrying a large pair of wire or bolt cutters.
The report also cites attempted break-ins at a generating station in Linden in January and a substation in Cherry Hill in October.
Security analyst Peter Caram tells News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane the report should be a wakeup call. "The bottom line is that the electrical and communications grids in this country one, are antiquated and two, they're all exposed to attack at any given time," Caram says.
PSE&G spokesperson Kathy Fitzgerald says the utility is well aware that there are threats to the system and works hard to minimize the risk, hiring both a full-time security analyst and homeland security analyst. She tells Kane In Your Corner the best way to protect the grid is to attempt to build in redundancies. "The bottom line is if you make sure that not one station can have major impact on consumers, you're protecting the electric grid," Fitzgerald says.
That day is not here yet. In fact, attackers could cause a nationwide blackout by knocking out just 55 strategically located substations, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing a memo from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C.