Feds order security probe after Moore County attack, FERC chair to step down
- $75,000 in rewards offered for information leading to arrest and conviction of Moore County vandals.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered an examination of security at substations across the country after sabotage on Dec. 3 left 45,000 Moore County residents without power for four days.
The order gives officials 120 days to generate a report and make recommendations on how to keep the grid safe from attack at the local level, likely to include items like security cameras and enclosures. There are 55,000 similar substations across the nation, and physical attacks on them have become more common, according to FERC Chairman Richard Glick.
Glick announced Thursday that he will leave FERC Jan. 3, when the new session begins in Congress. His nomination by President Biden to stay on in the role faced opposition on Capitol Hill and lacked active lobbying by the White House. Critics said he focused too much of his time at the head of the agency on advancing a climate agenda at the expense of other priorities.
The N.C. attack is not isolated. Attackers also used firearms in similar attacks on substations in Oregon and Washington state earlier this fall, and several days after the N.C. attack, gunfire was reported at a South Carolina substation.
In November, the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security issued a broad National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin pointing to domestic “violent extremists” as a threat.
“Our homeland continues to face a heightened threat environment — as we have seen, tragically, in recent acts of targeted violence — and is driven by violent extremists seeking to further a political or social goal or act on a grievance,” said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “To keep Americans safe, DHS is committed to working with partners across every level of government, in the private sector, and in local communities by sharing information, equipping communities with training and resources, and providing millions of dollars in grant funding for security enhancement and prevention.”
The agency said in the bulletin that “targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”
However, at this point investigators have not indicated that any evidence uncovered points to an ideological motivation for the attack in Moore County.
On average, Moore County residents lost $600 in wages during the four-day blackout, plus anything stored in refrigerators and freezers. There are $75,000 in rewards offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack.
“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “I appreciate the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to leave no stone unturned in finding the criminals who did this, and I thank Moore County and Duke Energy for matching the state’s reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper released a video on Twitter Friday promoting Christmas shopping in Moore County’s small businesses, which were hit hard by the power grid attack.