A letter to the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners regarding the security of our electrical grid

These questions are directed at all three of our Corporation Commissioners — Patrice Douglas, Bob Anthony, Dana Murphy. If this is not the right address to email for them, and if you are unable to forward this email, please inform me of their correct email contacts.

A Wall Street Journal story earlier this year reported that the country could be plunged into darkness by taking out nine critical substations:


“The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis. The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said. The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out nine of the country’s electric-transmission substations on a summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis. National War College Professor Dr. Richard Andres discusses. A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.”

  • What are the Oklahoma utility companies and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission doing to protect our state’s ¬†electrical grid from this kind of attack?
  • Are the Commissioners holding hearings or doing other investigations of the security of Oklahoma’s grid?
  • If the eastern power grid is vulnerable to an attack on only four substations, how can we protect our grid from problems elsewhere?

I hope the Commissioners understand the gravity of a situation where the electrical grid across the state went down and stayed down for a considerable period of time. I hope they are actively involved with insuring that our electrical grid remains safe and secure.

Alas, as near as I can tell, there is zero security in place protecting the electrical substations that I frequently drive by here in Oklahoma City. Last year, an electrical substation in California was attacked with rifle fire, and it didn’t take long for that station to go down due to an attack with ordinary commercially available rifles.

Some may say that an attack on the electrical infrastructure of Oklahoma is a low probability event, but that’s what people said once upon a time about Pearl Harbor, and the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. As a taxpaying citizen of the state of Oklahoma, I expect that my leaders are taking steps to protect us from this kind of high-impact threat. I would hate to wake up some morning and find out that I was wrong.

Thanks for your assistance. The Commissioners’ answers will be posted at my blog, http://www.bobwaldrop.net .

Bob Waldrop 1524 NW 21 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 405-200-8155

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