What we know so far about North Carolina power outage

Crime

Days after what officials called a targeted attack on power substations in North Carolina, NewsNation has exclusively obtained a recent federal law enforcement memo that warned of something strikingly similar. (Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Deputies say a Wednesday incident involving gunfire near a South Carolina energy facility was neither intentional nor related to similar reports in North Carolina.

No one was injured in the shooting incident that happened on Wednesday near a Duke Energy Wateree Hydro Station, according to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina. Although it didn’t result in any power outages, deputies are investigating the situation alongside state police and the FBI in light of recent reports elsewhere, according to a Sheriff’s Department Facebook post.

“We currently have no evidence leading us to believe this incident involves any type of attack on the Duke Energy Hydro Station,” Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan said. “The shooting appears to be a random act and the only connection between the shooting and the hydro station is their proximity.”

A massive wave of power outages in North Carolina began at about 7 p.m. on Saturday after what police at the time characterized as vandalization at multiple power substations in Moore County.

The outage left about 38,000 homes and businesses without power over the weekend. Moore County is home to about 47,000 customers of the affected utility provider, Duke Energy.

At a Sunday news conference, Moore Count Sheriff Ronnie Fields said that authorities have not determined a motive. He said someone pulled up and “opened fire on the substation, the same thing with the other one.” Gates appeared to be breached at both sites and the incidents are under criminal investigation, the sheriff said.

As they worked to restore power, officials announced a state of emergency that included a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday and closed schools throughout the county Monday.

Power in the area has since been restored.

The recent outages resurfaced information about several earlier incidents in other states. As of Friday, law enforcement has not said any of the events are related.

NewsNation obtained federal documents that referenced at least six other “intrusions” at Duke Energy substations in Florida dating back to September.

According to the memo, federal law enforcement officials believe the suspects behind the Florida intrusions had inside knowledge about the grid and how to power down equipment without causing damage.

The electrical grids in Oregon and western Washington also have suffered intrusion at least four times since November, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported.

Nick Picerno, the board of commissioners chairman for Moore County, North Carolina, said he believes the recent incidents in his community were planned, noting that the area is difficult to access.

“Whoever … did this knew right where to shoot to create a slow leak into the transformers, which drain the oil, so that they had time to get out and get away before anyone would notice as far as the power grid going down,” Picerno told NewsNation earlier this week.

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