Investigations launched into attack on North Carolina electric grid

Gunfire attacks on two electrical substations in North Carolina over the weekend left almost the entire county in the freezing dark. Talking about the matter, Governor Roy Cooper on Monday warned of a “new level of threat”. Cooper termed the shootings a criminal attack. The temperatures have dropped down considerably and at least 38,000 households are without power amid the chilling weather conditions. 

Schools in Moore County will remain closed for a second day on Tuesday. 

Utility workers who were investigating the power outages found that gates had been broken along with evidence of gunfire damage to equipment at two substations in Moore County. 

“Protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority,” said Cooper on Monday. “This kind of attack raises a new level of threat.”

The FBI and the US Department of Energy are probing the shootings, along with local and state law enforcement. Neither a motive has been uncovered yet, nor there have been any arrests.

While not much is being revealed by the authorities, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields indicated that whoever planned and carried out the attacks knew how to take out the substations.

The saboteur “knew exactly what they were doing to cause the damage and cause the outage that they did,” Fields said.

Speculations are rife that the attacks were a way to protest a planned drag show set for Saturday. However, Fields said law enforcement had not found any evidence to support this claim yet. 

Meanwhile, show organisers at the Sunrise Theater said that far-right activists had been trying to shut down the show for weeks, the Fayetteville Observer reported quoting theater’s executive director, Kevin Dietzel.

The newspaper reported that the show was held on Saturday despite the power outages.

Duke Energy DUK.N said power had been electricity to about 7,000 customers by Monday afternoon, from a total of 45,000 who had lost power after the shootings. That’s nearly everyone who the company serves in Moore County, spokesman Jeff Brooks said at a press briefing on Monday.

Brooks said that for most customers, power would likely be out through Wednesday or Thursday, because the damage to the two substations was extensive.

(With inputs from agencies)

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