RALEIGH, N.C. -- A North Carolina utility said an electricity substation was damaged by gunfire early Tuesday but that it caused no power outages.
The damage comes after a gunfire attack on multiple substations in Moore County knocked out power to more than 45,000 customers for several days in early December. There have been no arrests in those shootings.
EnergyUnited said in a news release that an alarm early Tuesday alerted it to an equipment problem at the substation in Randolph County, northeast of Charlotte. It said crews found damage to the substation from an apparent gunshot and that law enforcement had been notified.
Investigators believe the attack occurred around 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to a news release from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was notified, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force responded to conduct a parallel investigation, the release said.
The FBI is still seeking information related to the substation attacks in Moore County, which sparked widespread concern about vulnerabilities in the nation’s critical infrastructure.
While Gov. Roy Cooper said the attacks last month in central North Carolina raised “a new level of threat,” federal authorities and cybersecurity experts have long warned that the U.S. power grid could be a prime target for attacks.
Power equipment in Washington, Oregon and Nevada also has been vandalized in recent months.
Lawmakers and public officials in affected states are calling for increased security around electrical substations. But experts have cautioned the vastness of the power grid makes it difficult to protect.
EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation serves customers in parts of 19 North Carolina counties and says it’s collaborating with federal, state and local officials to share information and strengthen critical systems.
“EnergyUnited continually strives to deliver safe, reliable energy to its members,” said Steve McCachern, its vice president of energy delivery. “While we are glad that our members did not experience any service interruptions, we take this matter very seriously and are currently investigating the incident.”
Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.