A military-style attack on a electrical substation in California last April nearly shut down power in the state, and raised serious questions about the security of US infrastructure. Now a group of lawmakers are asking industry groups whether the US power grid needs its security improved to keep something like that from happening again. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) along with three other senators today requested both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to look into whether the federal government needs to bolster security at such facilities. That request includes whether there need to be new standard security measures beyond what the federal government already requires.

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link."

"While it appears that many utilities have a firm grasp on the problem, we simply do not know if there are substantial numbers of utilities or others that may have not taken adequate measures to protect against and minimize the harm from a physical attack," the letter says. "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link."

Last year's nearly hour-long attack on the substation began in the early morning and escalated quickly. As recounted by The Wall Street Journal, attackers began by cutting nearby telephone cables before opening fire on the substation to take out 17 of its transformers, an attack designed to take the station out of commission. Repairs on the station took nearly a month, and caused nearby energy companies to scramble. Law enforcement officials are still investigating the attack, which remains unsolved.