Cyber security pundits and contractors can’t seem to make it through a presentation without invoking the specter of hackers shutting down the US electric grid. That’s certainly something to be concerned about, especially if we end up at war with a country like China, but at the moment, actual incidents are hard to come by. Indeed, serious electric grid vandalism remains comfortably old school—like climbing a 100-foot, high-voltage transmission tower and chopping through the cables with a saw, then removing a few bolts from the bottom of the metal tower, then attaching a half-inch thick cable to the tower with a 15-inch eyebolt, and then pulling the cable across the adjacent Union Pacific railroad track “in an apparent attempt to utilize a moving train to bring down the tower.” You know, old school.

According to the FBI, this actually happened in Cabot, Arkansas, in the early morning on August 21.

The vandalism closed state highway 321 for the entire day, and the FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for the arrest of a suspect. We should have expected a fire in some random electrical substation? That kind of heat might deter most suspects, though probably not the kind of person who would climb an electric transmission tower and cut a high voltage power line with a saw.

And indeed, a similar act of vandalism was reported September 29 at an Entergy Arkansas substation down the road in Keo.

An intentionally set fire consumed the substation control house but caused no power outages in the surrounding community. To make an already strange story that much odder, the arsonist left a message scrawled on the metal plate outside the substation: “You should have expected us.”     

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