$75,000 reward, FBI investigation open after substation attacks in N.C.
The latest attack on power grid infrastructure was reported December 3, when a number of Duke Energy substations in North Carolina were damaged by gunshots in a shocking attack that has the FBI involved.
"On the evening of December 3, 2022, unknown suspect(s) fired multiple shots at two Duke Energy Substations in Moore County, North Carolina," reads an FBI statement on the "Seeking Information" section of its Most Wanted page. "The substations are located approximately 10 miles apart in West End and Carthage, North Carolina. The damage led to a massive power outage of approximately 45,000 customers. The repair process will take days, therefore a state of emergency was declared in Moore County to provide resources to citizens who remain without power."
A reward of $75,000 is being offered by the state, whose governor, Roy Cooper, called the attacks "malicious". Cooper's office announced Wednesday that the State, Duke Energy and Moore County are "each offering monetary rewards of up to a total of $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the destruction of utility substations in Moore County. The State is providing up to $25,000 while Duke Energy and Moore County are also each offering rewards up to $25,000."
Photos of the substations in question, from the FBI's Most Wanted page poster, are seen below:
Since the attacks last Saturday, Duke Energy says it has restored power to "nearly all customers" as of Wednesday, according to the most recent information from the utility's website.
"With around 10,000 customers restored so far, Duke Energy anticipates having nearly all customers restored by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday in the aftermath of an attack on two major substations Saturday in Moore County," part of the statement read, adding that crews are working 24-hour shifts to make repairs and restore service to all impacted customers. Several large and vital pieces of equipment were damaged in the event and need to be repaired or replaced.
“Repairing and replacing this equipment is a methodical process that takes several days,” said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s general manager, Emergency Preparedness. “Once repairs are made, we must test the equipment before beginning the final restoration process. We sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding our customers have shown.”
As of December 6, approximately 35,000 customers in the area remained without power—a number that is well down from the 45,000, who were initially affected when two substations in the county were attacked and vandalized—but still complicates living conditions for those in Moore County during colder winter months. Overnight temperatures have been in the 40s over the past week in the region.
The company continues to work with local, state and federal agencies on the investigation, as well as make donations to the local community.
“After meeting with local officials to get their input, we moved quickly to provide this initial $100,000 to support the needs of the community in a targeted, strategic fashion,” said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s incoming state president for North Carolina. “We are committed to not only restoring power as quickly as possible, but helping Moore County bounce back economically as well.”
The Red Cross, Sandhills-Moore Coalition for Human Care, Boys and Girls Club of Sandhills-Moore, United Way of Moore County and Northern Moore Family Resource Center will each receive $20,000.
“When power outage emergencies strike, our partner Duke Energy continues to support the community,” said Phil Harris, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Sandhills Chapter. “Their support provides resources to help us meet emerging needs.” Duke Energy says it will continue to work with organizations like the Red Cross and Moore County Emergency Management to identify ways to help the residents of Moore County.