States look to secure electrical grid after substation attacks

Policymakers in several states are looking to tighten security in their power grids after a series of attacks at substations in recent months exposed vulnerabilities and left thousands without power. .

Last year, at least four states reported deliberate attacks on power transmission facilities. The most significant blackout occurred in his early December, when his more than 45,000 utility customers in Moore County, North Carolina, peaked without power after two substations were gunned down. .

Republican Rep. Ben Moss, who is proposing legislation to tighten security, told the Associated Press that the December attacks turned his district into a “ghost town.” “When there is a blackout, there is no heat, no food, no fuel, no medicine, and people are at risk,” he added.

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CARTHAGE, USA – DECEMBER 5: Tens of thousands of people in Moore County are without power after the Duke Electric attack on two substations on December 5, 2022 in Carthage, North Carolina, USA Therefore, the state of the substation under construction (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Getty Images)

A draft bill obtained by AP requires utilities to provide 24-hour security at substations, and security improvements vary by site. Because some facilities are gated and have video surveillance, while others are relatively exposed. Moss believes the bill will be a “conversation starter” and will help legislators, utilities and security professionals identify cost-effective defenses that won’t lead to higher prices for consumers. I hope

Last week, North Carolina officials reported a shooting at a power substation in Randolph County. No outages have been reported, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is reportedly investigating the incident. No arrests were made in the attacks on power substations in Moore County or Randolph County.

There were at least a dozen incidents of intentional damage at substations last year in South Carolina. That included an incident he responded to with the FBI just days after shootings were reported in Moore County, North Carolina, but the power remained on.

Blackout in North Carolina: Federal memo flags substations in Washington, Oregon under attack similar to Moore County

NC substation gate

On Monday, December 5, 2022, a gate blocked the road leading to the West End Substation at 6910 NC Hwy. Power outages are occurring in many areas. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker/AP Images)

A South Carolina utility company is asking lawmakers to toughen penalties for destroying electrical infrastructure, and a state Senate bill would implement a sliding scale based on damage done to facilities. Under the proposal, damages over $25,000 could put the perpetrator in prison for up to 20 years, double her current maximum sentence of 10 years. If someone dies or becomes ill from the post-attack breakdown, there is a 25-year sentence.

Attacks against electrical installations are also prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported 15 physical attacks on electrical equipment in 2022. This includes his 10 for the last two months of the year. On Christmas Day, a series of attacks on four of his substations in the Puget Sound area cut power to 15,000 utility customers.

Attack on North Carolina power grid exposes vulnerability, prompts scrutiny of other recent attacks

NC blackout repair

Workers work on equipment at the West End Substation at 6910 NC Hwy 211 in West End, North Carolina, Monday, December 5, 2022. Here, a severe attack on critical infrastructure brought out much of the power around Southern Pines, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker/AP Images)

Two men in Washington state damaged energy facilities after attacking four substations dozens of miles apart on December 25, 2022, depriving 15,000 customers in the Puget Sound area of ​​power. accused of conspiracy to give Prosecutors say the motive was to commit a robbery at a local business during a power outage.

The Washington State Energy Department is considering physical and cybersecurity updates to the state’s electrical infrastructure as it undergoes an overhaul under the state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act.


No arrests were made in the deliberate attack on a power substation in Clackamas County, Oregon on Thanksgiving morning. The Oregon Public Utilities Commission is working with regulated utilities to increase vigilance and seek to improve facility security.

Federal energy regulators are also looking to improve the security of electrical grids. The North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC), which oversees large-scale power systems in the United States, will submit a report by early April with recommendations for possible security improvements.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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