AP

Duke Energy: All equipment damaged in NC shooting now fixed

Dec 7, 2022, 9:20 AM | Updated: 1:47 pm

Workers work on equipment at the West End Substation, at 6910 NC Hwy 211 in West End, N.C., Monday,...

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. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy completed repairs on substation equipment damaged in shootings over the weekend on Wednesday and restored power to all but a fraction of the thousands of customers who lost electricity in a central North Carolina county.

In a statement on its website, the energy company said all of the equipment damaged in an attack on two North Carolina substations Saturday has been fixed or replaced. The company said Moore County customers were gradually getting power back throughout the day as it finished testing and completes restoration safely.

“To avoid overwhelming the electrical system we will bring power back on gradually, with the goal of having the majority of customers restored before midnight tonight,” the statement said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only about 1,500 customers were without power in the county, according to Duke Energy’s outage map. That’s down from a peak of more than 45,000 customers who lost power over the weekend.

Authorities have said the outages began shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them.

Police have not released a motive or said what kind of gun was used. But Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields told reporters Monday that whoever was responsible “knew exactly what they were doing to … cause the outage that they did.”

The FBI posted a notice Wednesday seeking information related to the investigation.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state, county and Duke Energy were offering combined rewards of up to $75,000 total for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the attack.

“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” Cooper said in a statement.

Schools are closed through Thursday. The Moore County School District will announce by Wednesday at 4 p.m. whether schools will be closed to students Friday. Once power is restored, the district requires 24 hours to prepare the facilities before it can welcome back students.

FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, a 402-bed acute care facility in Pinehurst, regained power shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday and was gradually transitioning from emergency generators to normal power, the hospital website said.

The county’s transportation services are operating only for clients who have scheduled dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, according to the Moore County website.

Meanwhile, the Moore County outage brought renewed attention to a substation that was vandalized last month in another county about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast. A substation near Maysville in Jones County was damaged by vandals Nov. 11, causing outages to 12,000 customers that lasted about two hours, according to the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.

The vandals damaged transformers and caused them to leak coolant oil, the cooperative said in a news release. It was not immediately clear how the damage was done or if there is a link to the Moore County outages. The Jones County sheriff did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.

___

Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Duke Energy: All equipment damaged in NC shooting now fixed