Vandals Cause Tens of Thousands of Power Outages in North Carolina

What is the most frequent cause of power outages in the United States? If you answered extreme weather, you are correct. Give yourself a gold star.
But a significant number of blackouts also occur from other causes. Including automobile accidents, small animals sneaking into transformers (and paying the price for their curiosity), mechanical failures, human operator errors, cyber attacks and more.
A less common but very frightening cause is physical damage intentionally inflicted on electrical substations by vandals.
That's exactly what occurred recently in North Carolina. It resulted in more than 45,000 residents of Moore County losing power. Some for close to a week. Five other substations also suffered attacks recently in Oregon and Washington

Two Substations Targeted by Gunfire 

On the night of December 3, Duke Energy reported there was evidence of "intentional vandalism" at two substations. Police say the substations were taken out by gunfire in a targeted attack.
Ronnie Fields is the county sheriff. During a Facebook Live press conference he said, "We faced something last night here in Moore County we have never faced before."
He said multiple gunshots caused extensive damage at both stations. They resulted in power outages in the central and northern portions of the county. A state of emergency was declared, including a curfew, and schools were closed.
A news release from County Chief Deputy Richard Maness read, in part, "As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites.

'Damage Is Beyond Repair' 

Duke Energy General Manager Jason Hollifield said, "the damage is beyond repair in some areas."
He added, "That leaves us with no option but to replace large pieces of equipment – which is not an easy or quick task."
With traffic lights not functioning properly, residents were advised to stay off roads as much as possible. Emergency shelters were opened to the public.
In addition to local police, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation began round-the-clock operations. State Senator Tom McInnis called it "a terrible act" and promised the perpetrator would be brought to justice

Flashback to 10 Years Ago 

Hopefully Mr. McInnis is correct. But if this incident reminds you of something, you're not alone. The first thing I thought about when I heard this news is what occurred nearly 10 years ago near San Jose, California, when an attack on a power transmission substation occurred.
Shortly after telephone cables were cut, multiple snipers fired shots on the Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation's Metcalf substation. It took nearly a month for workers to make the repairs and bring the substation back to life.
To this day, no one has been arrested in connection with the sabotage. And we still don't know whether this was an isolated incident conducted by vandals or a dress rehearsal by terrorists.
Either way, it demonstrated that a coordinated attack on substations in major cities across the country could plunge much of the country into the dark. Possibly for an extended period of time. 

Domestic Terrorism Is a Big Concern
Jon Wellinghoff is the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Here's what he said at the time.
"(It was) the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S. Other critical electrical grid sites remain just as unprotected as this one was.
Coordinated attacks in each of the nation's three electrical systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, according to the FERC. Losing key substations would be devastating.
That's because they use large power transformers to boost the voltage of electricity so that it can move great distances before reducing the voltage to a usable level as that electricity gets closer to businesses and homes

DHS Warnings Are Growing
The North Carolina incident is not likely to be the last. Just days before it happened, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a bulletin through its National Terrorism Advisory System.
It stated that the "United States remains in a heightened threat environment" and "lone offenders and small groups" may commit acts of violence on various targets, including critical infrastructure in the country.
Back in January, a DHS bulletin read in part that domestic violent extremists "have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electric grid as a particularly attractive target."
The two North Carolina substations that were attacked are among the approximately 55,000 substations nationwide.
"There's a very few number of substations you need to take out in the entire United States to take out the entire grid," Wellinghoff said

Protect Yourself With Backup Power
Extreme weather is still a much more likely cause of power outages than vandalism, but the end result is usually the same.
We need to protect ourselves and our families against outages that can spoil our food, leave us in the dark and subject us to cold temperatures in our homes this winter.
One way to do that is with solar backup power. And we've got it. 
Head on over to our Amazon store to check out what's available. It's first-come first-served. Plus, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can get two-day shipping to get your survival gear fast! 


  • Larry Richey - December 20, 2022

    Timely message. Following is a “Letter to the Editor” that I submitted to our local paper and was printed last week.

    The recent attack on the North Carolina power grid is a real threat to our national security. The grid was taken down by a perfectly placed rifle shot. Apparently in the past several years the same thing happened in Oregon and Washington. Not by coincidence, I just finished reading the Vince Flynn novel “Total Power”. The story line follows the exact same occurrences as referenced above except the attacks were carried out all over the country. There are nine major power grid locations in the country and if all were attacked simultaneously the entire country would go dark. It would take months or even years to begin restoring power. In the novel it says “Computers and communication networks are down, fuel can no longer be pumped from gas stations, water and sanitation systems are on the brink of collapse, and the supply of food is running out.” The story line describes how millions of people subsequently died from hypothermia, hunger, no water, and lack of medical care. People turned on one another trying to acquire what was needed to survive. Total chaos.

    Now, think of the thousands of “gotaways” at the border. People coming into the country with other than amnesty on their minds. Terrorist cells could just be waiting for the word to simultaneously act. Were Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina dry runs? Read “Total Power”. Eerie and truly scaring! Our existing power grid should be at the very top of national security priorities, right along with control of the border. We certainly should not be spending billions of dollars to aid in addressing other country’s security issues.

  • Frank Wanko - December 19, 2022

    We live in Moore County about 15 miles from the substations that were hit. Yes, we were attacked by domestic terrorism. At first it just seemed like a freak thing that happened to the power, then the truth came out. These terrorists knew exactly what to do. But thankfully my wife and I have been planning for such an emergency and recently added a large generator to our stores of food and other essentials. We were able to keep our house warm with a flueless fireplace. Thankfully, we didn’t have to dig into our emergency food supply, but it was there.

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