After a series of apparently coordinated attacks against power substations across the country, several states are taking steps to increase security around their respective electrical grids in anticipation of further attempts.
As reported by Fox Business, four different states have suffered major power outages following such attacks. The largest impact was in Moore County, North Carolina, where over 45,000 residents were left without power in early December after two different substations were attacked by gun-wielding assailants.
North Carolina State Representative Ben Moss (R-N.C.), who said that the attacks reduced his home town to “a ghost town,” has introduced a bill to heighten security around such electrical facilities. Among other measures, the bill requires utilities to provide 24-hour security and surveillance at certain substations; the changes would vary based on the levels of security that already exist at some stations, where measures are already in place such as video cameras and locked gates.
“When the power goes out, you don’t have heat, don’t have food, can’t get fuel or some medications,” said Moss. “The people are unsafe.”
Neighboring South Carolina suffered at least 12 different attacks last year. As a result, a bill introduced in the state senate in response to lobbying by electrical companies would increase the penalties for the crime of damaging such infrastructure, raising the current 10-year maximum sentence for causing over $25,000 worth of damage to up to 20 years.
Similar attacks have taken place in the northwestern states of Washington and Oregon.
Few arrests have been made in any of the attacks. In Washington, two men were arrested after they damaged four different substations on Christmas Day, leaving 15,000 residents in the Puget Sound area without any power. Prosecutors have since said that their motive was to take advantage of the power outage to rob a particular business in the area.
The broader motive for the other attacks remains unknown at this time. Some have speculated that the attacks may have been carried out by far-left terrorists who, motivated by so-called global warming, are targeting power plants as a statement against conventional sources of energy.