Tuesday, the North Carolina Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 58, “Protect Critical Infrastructure,” a bill aimed at preventing attacks on critical infrastructure in North Carolina.
In early December, two substations in Moore County were attacked by gunfire. The targeted attack left over 40,000 residential and business customers without power. For days, families were left in the cold, wondering what had happened and when their power would turn back on. No arrests have been made yet.
Crews work on Carthage’s substation Dec. 5, 2022, after an unknown person(s) attacked our power grid by gunfire/Sandhills Sentinel.
“I saw first-hand just how bad things were following the attack. People were confused, scared, and unable to get power to their homes,” lead bill sponsor Sen. Tom McInnis said. “Senate Bill 58 sends a message to any bad actors out there that attacks on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated. Violators will be held responsible and punished severely.”
Following the attack, Sen. McInnis and others began working on legislation to increase punishments for crimes against critical infrastructure. Senate Bill 58 would make it so anyone who attacks an “energy facility” will face a Class C felony, which alone can carry a sentence of up to 123 months, in addition to a $250,000 fine. The bill also increases the punishment for first-degree trespassing at an energy facility from a Class A1 misdemeanor to a Class I felony. Both physical and digital attacks are covered under the bill.
Senate Bill 58 now heads to the N.C. House of Representatives for consideration.
North Carolina Rep. Tom McInnis announces a reward leading to the arrest of individuals responsible for attacks on the electrical grid system is in the works on Dec. 6, 2022, at the press conference at the Carthage Sheriff Department/Sandhills Sentinel.
A $75,000 reward was announced shortly following the Moore County attack. The reward money is being offered by Moore County, North Carolina, and Duke Energy. The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $25,000.
Anyone with information should call the Moore County Sheriff’s Office at 910-947-4444 or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
Feature photo: Electrical substation in Moore County on Dec. 3, 2022, during the power grid attack/Sandhills Sentinel.