The decade's most triggering comedy
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Puget Sound Energy, and the Cowlitz County Public Utility District confirmed their substations were attacked in November, the Seattle Times reported. Reports of the November attacks come just days after two electricity substations in North Carolina were targeted by gunfire, leaving around 45,000 customers without power.
BPA spokesman Douglas Johnson said there was a “deliberate physical attack” at a substation in Clackamas, Oregon, over the Thanksgiving holiday. Johnson explained that someone had cut a fence and damaged equipment in the attack.
“BPA is actively cooperating with the FBI on this incident and has encouraged other utilities throughout the region to increase their vigilance and report any suspicious or similar activity to law enforcement,” Johnson added.
A Puget Sound Energy spokesman also confirmed that two of the company’s substations were attacked in late November but did not provide details on how much damage was caused in the attacks.
The Cowlitz County Public Utility District in Washington reported two of its substations were subject to “vandalism.” A spokesperson said the facilities “have since been repaired.”
The FBI declined to confirm it had launched an investigation into the attacks, the Times reported.
State and federal authorities continue investigating the gun barrages in North Carolina that knocked out power for thousands of people over the weekend. The investigators are coming close to explaining possible motives for the attacks in North Carolina, sources familiar with the situation told CNN.
The attacker is believed to have used a rifle to damage equipment at the Moore County, North Carolina, substations, and officials are hoping the shell casings from the suspected firearm will give them vital information about the shooter. Power for all 45,000 North Carolinians who were left in the dark was finally restored Wednesday night, four days after the attack.
Vandalism and physical attacks on the electric grid jumped in 2022. Over 100 incidents of suspected and confirmed attacks on electricity substations occurred over the year, according to the Department of Energy. But Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during the Trump administration, warned that the attacks in North Carolina pose a significant risk.
“The significance of this outage in North Carolina in the middle of a really cold winter should not be underappreciated — it’s a huge deal,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of this and take physical security and cybersecurity seriously and there are things we can do in terms of standards and other approaches to harden and protect our critical energy infrastructure.”
Law enforcement officials noted that, over the past two years, anti-government groups have used online forums to encourage people to attack infrastructure, such as electricity substations usually located in rural areas. The groups reportedly post detailed instructions on substations’ vulnerabilities.