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PG&E To Add Security After San Jose ‘Terrorism’ Incident; Cost To Ratepayers Unclear

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The scene of a shooting and oil spill at a San Jose PG&E substation on April 16, 2013. (CBS)

The scene of a shooting and oil spill at a San Jose PG&E substation on April 16, 2013. (CBS)

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KCBS's Matt Bigler started as a reporter/anchor in 2004, and is now...
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) — PG&E announced a plan on Monday to increase security at its network of electricity substations after the high-profile attack on a San Jose substation last year that was described by a former federal official as domestic terrorism.

PG&E plans to add opaque walls, advanced camera systems, enhanced lighting and other security measures at multiple substations. Not all substations were identified but the plan does include the Metcalf substation in south San Jose, where a sophisticated rifle attack knocked out power to much of south Santa Clara County last April.

Brian Swanson, spokesman for PG&E, said that the security enhancements may bring possible rate increases for customers.

“Our plan is to spend approximately $86 million to improve substation security over the next three years. We’ll look to cover those costs through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s too early to say how it will impact our rates,” said Swanson.

Jon Wellinghoff, the former head of the FERC, told KCBS that he thinks that security should be a taxpayer issue.

“It shouldn’t be the ratepayers and PG&E that should pay for that because, ultimately, if you secure those substations making the whole western grid secure, all the western United States benefits.

Wellinghoff brought national attention to the substation security last week when he told the Wall Street Journal that the attack on the south San Jose substation was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

PG&E did not provide a timetable for the security upgrades, nor did they reveal the total number of substations that will be worked on.

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