More than 33,000 North Carolina power customers remained in the dark and under curfew Monday two days after two electric substations were shot up in what officials said was a “targeted attack.”
Schools in Moore County were also closed Monday as residents in the rural area 90 miles east of Charlotte woke up to temperatures below freezing.
A decision would be made Monday night on whether they could reopen, as outages were expected to stretch through Thursday, power officials said.
Law enforcement agencies had not identified a suspect or motive for the shootings at the substations, which are owned by Duke Energy Corp.
“No group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones who’ve done it, so I call them cowards,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a Sunday press conference.
“This individual that done this, it was targeted, it wasn’t random,” he added, while pouring cold water on unsubstantiated rumors that the incident was connected to a Southern Pines drag show that had attracted protestors, according to The Pilot.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said she was in contact with Duke about the “serious” incident, and federal authorities were investigating the mysterious rampage, which left gates at the facilities broken and equipment damaged by gunfire, as a possible domestic terrorism attack, officials said.
“FBI Charlotte is investigating the willful damage to power facilities in Moore County. We are in regular contact with local law enforcement and private sector partners,” the feds said.
A state of emergency that carried a 9 p.m. curfew remained in effect in the county Monday. Residents were also told to conserve fuel as officials opened a shelter with bathrooms and shower facilities.
“The person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Fields said. “We don’t have a clue why.”
Replacing the power equipment could cost millions of dollars, officials said.
“Equipment will have to be replaced,” said Jeff Brooks, principal communications manager for Duke Energy.
“We’re pursuing multiple paths of restoration so that we can restore as many customers as quickly as possible. Recognizing that, we are looking at pretty sophisticated repair with some fairly large equipment.”
With Post wires