Two Duke Energy substations in Moore County, North Carolina were damaged by gunfire Saturday night (December 3rd) in what investigators believe were ‘intentional” and “targeted”. Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said that whoever fired at the substations “knew exactly what they were doing”. Tens of thousands of customers in central North Carolina have been without power since then, but they should see their lights coming on by late Wednesday. Power will be restored in stages, a few thousand at a time – said Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesperson.
New equipment has been installed, but it needs to be calibrated and tested so that it works in sync with the grid, Brooks said.
You may recall that at least two people armed with rifles opened fire on Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf substation shortly after midnight on April 16, 2013. A fusillade of more than 100 rounds disabled 17 transformers. The company was able to reroute power and contain the outage but had to spend $15 million on repairs.
There have been other attacks on power substations since, including a series by an Arkansas man later that year in 2013.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned utility companies about such attacks last January. In a widely reported memo first disclosed by The Daily Beast, the agency said that “domestic violent extremists” had “developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electric grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors.”
The following month, three men pleaded guilty in Ohio to federal charges related to a scheme to attack power substations to sow unrest and economic upheaval to further their white supremacy ideology. As part of the conspiracy, each man was assigned a substation in a different region of the country, according to prosecutors. “The plan was to attack the substations, or power grids, with powerful rifles,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendants believed their plan would cost the government millions of dollars and cause unrest for Americans in the region. They had conversations about how the possibility of the power being out for many months could cause war, even a race war, and induce the next Great Depression.” Investigators have not discussed possible motives for the attacks in Moore County but have said they were calculated.