The FBI is investigating possible ‘targeted’ attacks on North Carolina power grid that left tens of thousands in the dark

Credit image- CNN

The FBI is joining local and state agencies in an investigation into the alleged “premeditated attack” on two substations on the North Carolina power grid that left about 45,000 people without power and heat over the weekend.

Sixty percent of Moore County, North Carolina, about 70 miles southwest of Raleigh, had no power Saturday night, officials said at a news conference. On Monday, Duke Energy said it had restored power to about 7,000 customers, but another 38,000 remained in the dark and likely would remain so through Thursday.

The Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Saturday that authorities were investigating the incident as a felony after evidence indicating “deliberate” vandalism was found at several locations, including two substations damaged by gunfire.

Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack or made any arrests, but Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Sunday that the attack was “accidental,” according to the Washington Post. Fields declined to answer reporters’ questions about whether surveillance cameras had captured footage of the vandalism.

Credit image- ABC7 Chicago

Police said the blackout started around 7pm. this Saturday. The two affected substations in the cities of Carthage and the West End are about a 20-minute drive away, Major Andy Conway of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office told The Post.

A spokesperson for Duke Energy told the outlet that a great deal of equipment was damaged at both locations, including the substation doors.

Experts have long warned of the vulnerability of the country’s power infrastructure, saying the US power grid could become a prime target for insider attacks.

John Miller, CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, said these types of attacks have been a national issue for years given the distributed nature of America’s power grid.

“The challenge is that most of these locations are outdoors, most are in remote areas, and most are open to remote attacks,” Miller said on CNN This Morning.

Saturday’s attack comes just a week after the Department of Homeland Security updated a January bulletin warning that US electrical infrastructure was an “attractive target” for domestic extremists.

Miller suggested on CNN that the perpetrator’s aim may have been to cause chaos, which was certain to happen in Saturday’s blackout: Moore County declared a state of emergency in response to the attack; released at 21:00. Curfew; and closed schools on Mondays.

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