PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Slowly power is being restored to 45,000 customers days after what authorities say was a targeted attack.
Saturday, at least one suspect opened fire on two power substations in Moore County, North Carolina. After examining the extensive damage caused by the attack, investigators said it appears the person or persons responsible knew exactly what they were doing when they used a weapon to cut power for thousands.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, in a briefing Monday, said the nation’s power grid is at risk.
“Protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority. This kind of attack raises a new level of threat,” said Cooper.
The threat may have turned deadly. A senior citizen in Pinehurst who lost power Saturday, when temperatures were below freezing, was found dead. Authorities say if the death is linked to the power failure the person who opened fire could be held responsible.
Since 2020 the Department of Homeland Security has tracked specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure. Just days before the attack, Homeland Security issued a bulletin.
“Lone offenders and small groups…continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat… to the homeland. In the coming months… targets could include government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents, said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Dominion Energy, which serves North Eastern North Carolina, is closely monitoring the unsolved North Carolina infrastructure attack.
In a statement, the utility said “Our security procedures rely on an integrated set of protections to safeguard the grid. Dominion Energy personnel are communicating with federal, state, and local law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and industry peers to proactively assess the North Carolina incident.”
Jon Wellinghoff is the former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He told NBC News there should be nationwide security standards at utility facilities.
“To the extent, they have chained fences around them. They’re not secured…they’re extremely vulnerable. We need to get more serious about this from a standpoint of having prescriptive requirements.” said Wellinghoff.
Authorities in North Carolina say all power in Moore County should be restored by the end of Wednesday.