Attack on North Carolina electric grid ‘new level of threat,’ governor says

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper on Monday warned of a “whole new level of threat” and called for increased security around power stations after this weekend’s gunfire attacks on two electrical substations in Moore County that left nearly all households in the freezing dark.

Schools in Moore County will be closed for a second day on Tuesday and 38,000 households were still without power amid freezing nighttime temperatures after the Saturday shootings that Cooper called criminal attacks.

“Protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority,” said Cooper, a Democrat, in a press briefing on Monday. “This kind of attack raises a whole new level of threat.”

Federal agencies including the FBI and the U.S. Department of Energy are investigating the shootings, along with local and state law enforcement. So far, none have suggested a motive and no arrests have been announced.

U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the incidents, the White House said on Monday.

“Early evidence suggests that it was deliberate and the investigation is under way,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a briefing.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said he had no evidence to support online rumors that the attacks were connected to a drag show.

Duke Energy, which provides power to the area, said it had restored electricity to about 7,000 customers by Monday afternoon, from a total of 45,000 who had lost power after the shootings.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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