CPUC issues $50,000 citation to PG&E for substation security breach


SANTA CLARA COUNTY (BCN) — PG&E was issued a $50,000 citation by the California Public Utilities Commission Monday for failing to prevent a security breach at a substation near San Jose last year.

The Metcalf substation was burglarized sometime between the night of Aug. 26, 2014 and early morning of Aug. 27, 2014, CPUC officials said.

The substation is located at 150 Metcalf Road off of U.S. Highway 101 near the city border with Santa Clara County.

Burglars entered the substation at various points along a fence and took construction equipment worth more than $40,000 from an operations yard and an adjacent construction staging yard, according to the CPUC.

The break-in and burglary was discovered by the utility during the morning hours of Aug. 27, 2014,

PG&E security workers stated they did not know about theft despite alarms that sounded during the break-in, CPUC officials said.

There had previously been a shooting at the substation in April 2013, so the the San Francisco-based utility company had time to heighten security at the site before the August 2014 incident, CPUC officials said.

The shooting damaged tanks holding oil used to power the machines, according to PG&E.

The shots spilled 52,000 gallons of oil and put 17 of 23 transformers out of commission, according to PG&E.

A CPUC Safety and Enforcement Division investigation showed the utility company violated its code and did not provide enough training for on-site personnel and security management, CPUC officials said.

PG&E must respond to the citation by Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

PG&E has issued the following statement in response:

We take the security of our critical facilities very seriously, and we took immediate action to get to the bottom of what happened. Immediately following the burglary, PG&E took numerous initial actions to address security gaps at the facility, including:

o Increased security officer presence on site;
o Enhanced lighting onsite;
o Addressed alarm and incident response protocols for security operations center personnel;
o Performed security review and penetration testing at Metcalf substation;
o Enhanced camera systems;
o Replaced third party guard contractors and security operations contractors; increased staffing and supervision.

After the burglary in August, PG&E conducted a thorough root cause analysis to identify actions we can take to prevent a recurrence. All upgrades at Metcalf, which were identified in the investigation, are complete.