RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — An EnergyUnited substation was damaged by gunfire on Tuesday morning, according to a statement released by EnergyUnited.
Officials with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office got a call around 10:40 a.m. reporting the damage to the substation at 6968 Post Road.
Crews were able to keep the power on for EnergyUnited customers.
RCSO Investigators responded to collect evidence at the site, according to an RCSO news release.
The FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations were also told about the incident. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force responded to conduct a parallel investigation.
“The FBI is working with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office to investigate after gunfire damaged an EnergyUnited substation on January 17, 2023,” the FBI told FOX8 in a statement on Wednesday. “At this time, it is too early in the investigation to determine whether this case is connected to the ongoing investigation in Moore County.”
Investigators recovered evidence from the scene and canvassed the surrounding areas to gather additional information. Based on the information gathered, investigators believe the incident happened around 3 a.m.
“While the Governor is grateful there were no power outages any attack on infrastructure is a serious crime and needs full investigation,” the office of Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Similar attacks nationwide show the importance of smart investments to make the energy grid and its systems resilient and capable of recovering quickly from any damage.”
The full statement from EnergyUnited is provided below:
EnergyUnited officials responded to an alarm that notified personnel of an equipment issue at its Pleasant Hill Substation early Tuesday morning. Crews were dispatched to assess the situation and discovered damage to the substation transformer from an apparent gunshot. The damage was quickly assessed and contained to mitigate the impact to members in the Pleasant Hill area and law enforcement officials were notified. EnergyUnited members who are served by this substation did not experience an outage as a result of the cooperative’s swift response.
‘EnergyUnited continually strives to deliver safe, reliable energy to its members,’ said Steve McCachern, vice president of energy delivery for EnergyUnited. ‘While we are glad that our members did not experience any service interruptions, we take this matter very seriously and are currently investigating the incident.’
Staying ahead of any challenge is a collaborative effort. EnergyUnited is collaborating with electric cooperatives, industry partners, peer organizations, as well as federal, state and local officials to share information that improves member service and strengthens critical systems. Additionally, EnergyUnited encourages community members to share information with the cooperative and local officials whenever suspicious activity is observed near any of its substations or facilities.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department had recently increased patrols at all substations after a similar attack in Moore County.
On Dec. 3, unknown suspects attacked two Duke Energy substations with high-powered rifles in Moore County.
“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper after the Moore County attacks. “I appreciate the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to leave no stone unturned in finding the criminals who did this, and I thank Moore County and Duke Energy for matching the state’s reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
There had also been an act of vandalism on a power substation in eastern North Carolina three weeks before the attack in Moore County when Cartaret-Craven Electrical Cooperative equipment was intentionally damaged near Maysville, leaving 12,000 customers without power for a few hours.
While law enforcement has not identified an ideological tie to these attacks, a neo-Nazi banner flown over U.S. 1 in Moore County appeared to reference the attacks.
The banner, first of two, included the language “bring it all down” with a link to a Telegram channel for the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Resistant Front. The channel includes graphics with the same language imposed over a graphic of a power substation. Both this and the second banner included the number 1488, a known white supremacist symbol.
North Carolina men were among at least two groups of men with neo-Nazi ties awaiting sentencing in connection to plans to attack power substations. The plots were uncovered in 2020 and 2021 and covered numerous states.
Three men pleaded guilty to a 2021 plot in February of 2022, and several men were indicted by the Eastern District of North Carolina in a 2020 plot. Both of these cases involved groups planning attacks on substations in different states, primarily using high-powered automatic weapons.