MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Duke Energy has not yet decided how it will handle the costs connected to the recent attack on the Moore County power grid.
On Dec. 3, two substations failed in Moore County, plunging tens of thousands of Duke Energy customers into darkness for four days. Investigators later revealed that the substations were damaged by gunfire and the case was under investigation as a “criminal occurrence.”
“Costs associated with the Moore County incident are still being compiled and no decisions have yet been made about how those costs will be handled,” Jeff Brooks, a representative for Duke Energy, said Friday.
When asked about rumors that Duke Energy could focus price increases on the customers impacted by the outage, Brooks said that is not how Duke Energy usually handles this kind of situation.
“We do not typically localize costs to areas affected by an outage, but rather those costs are part of the operation of our electric grid which are shared by all utility customers,” he said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and law enforcement has not publicly identified any suspects.
Moore County deputies obtained multiple search warrants in connection to the attacks, but those warrants were under seal due to sensitive information as part of the ongoing investigation by multiple agencies to find the suspects.
On Friday, investigators added digital billboards across the state of North Carolina in the hopes of finding the person or people responsible.
The State of North Carolina, Moore County and Duke Energy are each offering monetary rewards of $25,000, for a total of $75,000, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the destruction of utility substations in Moore County.
“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” said North Carolina 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.”
Concerning social media posts and the timing of the attack coinciding with a contested drag event in Southern Pines has put the local LGBTQ+ community on edge and left the broader community uncertain while investigators work.
In late November, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a report warning the country that there was a heightened risk of domestic terrorism, particularly against the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. The warning came in the wake of threats against synagogues in New York and the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
David Schanzer, the director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University, said, “We just don’t know exactly who the perpetrators are or what their motives are. But, once we do, the label of domestic terrorism could certainly be applied here, but it just depends.”
Reports of similar attacks on power infrastructure have emerged since the attack in Moore County, in places like Florida and the Pacific Northwest.
There had been an act of vandalism on a power substation in eastern North Carolina just three weeks before the attack in Moore County, when Cartaret-Craven Electrical Cooperative equipment was intentionally damaged near Maysville, leaving 12,000 customers without power for a few hours.
Anyone having information concerning the Moore County investigation should contact the MCSO at (910) 947-4444 or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-CALL FBI.