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California utility attack should prompt U.S. safety review: Democrats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats urged U.S. power regulators on Friday to consider whether additional safety standards were needed to protect power plants after a sniper attack disrupted operations at a California utility last year.

Calling the April 2013 attack in California's Silicon Valley a "wake-up call," the lawmakers said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corporation should weigh enacting mandatory rules to increase protection at utilities.

"We are concerned that voluntary measures may not be sufficient to constitute a reasonable response to the risk of physical attack on the electricity system," the senators said in a letter on Friday to the regulators. It was signed by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, outgoing energy committee head Ron Wyden, intelligence committee head Dianne Feinstein and Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

Unknown assailants fired a high-powered rifle at electric transformers owned by PG&E Corp's Pacific Gas and Electric utility, hitting the structures more than 100 times.

Last week, the senators met with government and industry officials to discuss the utility sector's response to the shooting incident and efforts to prevent similar physical attacks.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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