State Watch

North Carolina power outages expected to be ‘nearly all’ restored before Thursday

AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker
Workers work on equipment at the West End Substation, at 6910 NC Hwy 211 in West End, N.C., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, where a serious attack on critical infrastructure has caused a power outage to many around Southern Pines, N.C.

Nearly all the customers whose power was knocked out in North Carolina over the weekend after apparent gunfire damage to two substations will have their power restored by Wednesday evening, the local power company said.

Authorities indicated an unknown suspect intentionally used a firearm to disable the energy equipment in Moore County, N.C., on Saturday evening, knocking out power for about 40,000 customers.

Duke Energy, which serves customers in the area, previously indicated outages could reach into Thursday, but it now says it expects “nearly all” customers to have power again by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Repairing and replacing this equipment is a methodical process that takes several days,” Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s general manager for emergency preparedness, said in a statement. “Once repairs are made, we must test the equipment before beginning the final restoration process. We sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding our customers have shown.”

The company said about 35,000 customers remain without power as of Tuesday afternoon, a number that has fallen from the approximately 45,000 initially affected.

Authorities have not yet announced a suspect or a motive, but an investigation remains ongoing, including the involvement of the FBI.

“This kind of attack raises a new level of threat,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said at a Monday press conference. 

“We will be evaluating ways to work with our utility providers and our state and federal officials to make sure that we harden our infrastructure where that’s necessary and work to prevent future damage,” he added.

The outages have caused many local businesses to shut down, and the county’s public school system has already announced closures through Thursday.

“Once power is restored, twenty-four hours is required for schools to be able to welcome back students,” the district wrote in an announcement posted to its website. “This is due to the impact the outage has had on child nutrition services; specifically our school cafeteria freezers and the need to move food supplies to sites that have electricity. Additionally, the outage continues to impact traffic patterns that make it unsafe to operate school buses.​​​​​​​”

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