State lawmakers demand protection for substations

State lawmakers demand protection for substations; ENC leaders react
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:57 PM EST
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JONES COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The FBI is investigating attacks at substations in three different North Carolina counties, including one right here in the east. In the meantime, state lawmakers are proposing legislation to protect power grids.

This transmission substation off highway 58 near Maysville in Jones County was attacked by vandals back on Nov. 11, 2022.

According to a representative for the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative, 12,000 customers were without power for about two hours.

Fast forward nearly a month later, on Dec. 3, 2022, two substations in Moore County were attacked by vandals. The attack left thousands of residents without power for days.

Just last week, yet another substation in Randolph County was vandalized.

While the investigation continues for all three of those attacks State Representative Ben Moss (R) is urging lawmakers to push legislation to protect power grids so this doesn’t happen again.

It’s a push that Eastern Carolina State Representative Chris Humphrey (R) applauds. “Cyber security is the top of everyone’s mind,” Humphrey said. “These substations that sit out in the middle of nowhere in wide open spaces make them very vulnerable to terrorist attacks.”

The proposal has also gained the support of State Senator Kandie Smith (D) but she hopes law enforcement catches those responsible first.

“We cannot miss the point,” Smith said. “We need to find out who is responsible for these types of attacks. What’s their plan? What’s on their mind? That will give us an idea of what’s happening. If will it happen again, if they will try it again. We cannot do everything else but forget the perpetrators.”

No one has been arrested for any of these three substation attacks.

Officials tell WITN the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, SBI and FBI are still working together to find out who is responsible for the attack at this substation off of Highway 58 near Maysville.

Moss proposes 24-hour surveillance at substations in North Carolina.