A growing number of attacks on power substations and electric grid facilities in the Carolinas and the Pacific Northwest, in recent months, are leading state legislators to sponsor draft bills that would impose severe punishments on perpetrators.
FBI Failing to Resolve Largest Recent Power Grid Attack
Attacks damaging the power grid of American communities in recent months have occurred in North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington State, Oregon, and Nevada.
The biggest one – in Moore County, North Carolina, left 45,000 households and businesses without electricity for days. The FBI has taken up the case but has made no arrests and is still looking for suspects.
North Carolina lawmaker Ben Moss, a Republican, is now sponsoring a bill to crack down on power grid and substation attacks in the state, Fox News reported. His legislative proposal comes after a new substation attack occurred last week northeast of Charlotte, in Randolph County.
Lawmakers in neighboring South Carolina have also moved to pass a state law to protect the local electricity infrastructure; the latest attacks have exposed the vulnerability of America’s electrical grid.
The report notes for years now, security experts have been worrying that domestic terrorists could target the nation’s power infrastructure.
Republican North Carolina state Rep. Ben Moss, who is running for state labor commissioner in 2024, said the power grid attack in Moore County last fall turned his district into a “ghost town.”
His draft law would make it obligatory for utilities to maintain 24-security at substations, the transformers turning high-voltage electricity into low-voltage power for communities.
Moss said his bill should start a discussion including security experts, lawmakers, and utilities so the new defenses wouldn’t spike electricity prices.
Representative Ben Moss is among the first state legislators to propose power grid protections this year amid a surge in attacks on U.S. substations, primarily in the Carolinas and Pacific Northwest.https://t.co/mzJqsklSFo
— Climate Nexus (@ClimateNexus) January 22, 2023
FBI responds to gunfire at another North Carolina substation month after Moore County power grid attacks https://t.co/qxeqdHgNMP
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 18, 2023
Power Grid Attacks Becoming More Frequent and Severe
The large-scale attack on three substations in North Carolina’s Moore County led federal regulators in December to commission a review of the physical security in America’s power grid.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the manager of America’s bulk power system, is expected to submit a report on the matter by early April.
According to NERC’s senior vice president, Manny Cancel, the targeting and frequency of power grid attacks “has increased” – so much so that there are entire clusters of facilities that have gotten “repeatedly targeted.”
In South Carolina, a draft has been proposed in the state Senate, which would impose powerful punishments on perpetrators of electricity grid attacks.
South Carolina saw a Duke Energy facility attacked with gunshots several days after the attack in Moore County, North Carolina, but without any damage.
The draft law in South Carolina proposes a prison sentence of up to 20 years for perpetrators of power grid attacks that do damage worth over $25,000. The punishment doubles the current maximum of 10 years.
If an electric system attack causes someone’s death or endangers human health, the perpetrator would face a maximum of 25 years in prison.
According to Keller Kissam, the president of Dominion Energy South Carolina, the state had at least 12 intentional attacks on its power grid last year. He insisted that putting people “in the dark” is an easy way to “demoralize them.”
State lawmakers propose power grid protections after attacks https://t.co/kXREUC5xHd pic.twitter.com/PXeQfyncQl
— The Hill (@thehill) January 23, 2023
This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.