At least five attacks on power stations in Washington and Oregon in November have been reported to federal authorities, according to multiple reports.
The reports of the Northwest substation attacks come less than a week after a similar attack occurred at two substations in North Carolina that left tens of thousands of residents without power over the weekend.
The FBI acknowledged that it is aware of the recent substation attacks in Washington and Oregon, according to an agency memo sent to Washington law enforcement officials, KING 5 reported. The memo states:
Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using hand tools, arson, firearms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure. … In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment.
While the FBI has not confirmed or denied they are investigating the recent incidents, several Northwest power companies confirmed they reported the attacks to the agency in November and are cooperating with them, the Seattle Times reported.
The companies that say they have been attacked include Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the Cowlitz County Public Utility District (CCPUD), and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).
A spokesman with BPA stated that a “deliberate physical attack” occurred at one of its stations in Clackamas, Oregon, on Thanksgiving Day, according to both the Times and King 5.
Furthermore, PSE confirmed that two attacks occurred at their facilities in late November but did not comment on the locations of the substations or if there was any damage. The CCPUD also confirmed that two substations in the Woodland area received “vandalism” in mid-November.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office is “aware” of the threats to the power grid but deferred to the utility companies to describe them, the Times reported. The governor’s office added they are “monitoring threat activity in our support and coordination role with federal and local governments and individual utilities.”
On Saturday evening, two Duke Energy Substations–located ten miles apart–in Moore County, North Carolina, came under gunfire from unknown suspects. The damage caused a massive power outage in the area, affecting approximately 45,000 people at its peak.
Moreover, Duke Energy confirmed that gunfire was reported at another one of its facilities in Ridgeway, South Carolina, on Wednesday evening. A company spokesman confirmed that it was “working closely with the FBI on this issue,” per WYFF News 4.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.