What We Know About the Power Station Sabotage in NC

The FBI has joined the case in the act of criminal vandalism at two substations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 12:08 PM CST
Someone Deliberately Took Out the Power in NC. Why?
This photo shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Tens of thousands were without power in the county after what authorities say was an act of criminal vandalism at two substations.   (John Nagy/The Pilot via AP)

The power was still out Monday afternoon for tens of thousands of people in North Carolina after a rare case of sabotage at two power substations over the weekend. It could be days before electricity is back and even longer before authorities figure out what happened in Moore County. The details:

  • The damage: A person or persons went to two substations in the county on Saturday night, breached the unmanned gates, and opened fire on the equipment. They "knew exactly what they were doing," says Sheriff Ronnie Fields, per the Pilot. "It wasn't random."
  • Investigation: No group has claimed responsibility, and police have not spoken of a motive. The FBI has joined the investigation, reports CNN, and about 40,000 homes and businesses might be without power until Thursday given the extensive damage. "An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice," tweeted Gov. Roy Cooper.

  • The precedent: The Wall Street Journal notes that power facilities in the US have long been vulnerable. In 2013, a coordinated sniper attack knocked out power at an electrical substation in San Jose, California, and threatened to put Silicon Valley in the dark. It was seen as an act of domestic terrorism. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission subsequently required better security at substations, though tens of thousands of smaller facilities were not covered by the rule.
  • The rumors: Police addressed widespread local speculation that the sabotage was connected to a controversial drag show that took place Saturday night, with Sheriff Fields saying no connection has been made. The Raleigh News & Observer reports that one outspoken critic of the show posted online, "The power is out in Moore County and I know why." Emily Grace Rainey says police later spoke to her, and "I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage." The sheriff says this line of investigation "turned out to be nothing."
(Read more North Carolina stories.)

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