MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A deliberate attack on a power grid in North Carolina has sparked a discussion about power grid vulnerability in Memphis and across the country.
There’s hope that power will be restored to people in Moore County, North Carolina, located about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Raleigh. At one point, 45,000 customers were in the dark and cold after investigators say someone broke through a gate and intentionally shot at two power substations Saturday night.
The attack has left the community there scrambling.
A federal investigation is now underway for the person responsible, but the incident has now prompted a national discussion about power grid vulnerability across the country.
Officials at MLGW say security measures are in place, but Memphis’ mayor says attacks like this one show there needs to be a national conversation about protecting infrastructure.
“There’s going to have to be a national conversation and frankly probably national funding to strengthen that,” he said.
A Department of Homeland Security Intelligence memo obtained exclusively by NewsNation says an anonymous forum called for attacks against critical infrastructure including substations in six states, including Tennessee one month prior to the attack in North Carolina.
We asked Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland about power grid protection.
“As a nation, we need to have a conversation. Because our infrastructure is the same as in North Carolina, which is the same in California, Kansas, it’s all vulnerable,” he said.
MLGW told us no one was available for an interview Wednesday but sent the following statement:
“MLGW takes the safety and security of its electric grid system seriously. We have security measures in place. MLGW’s electric grid is robust enough to pick up the electric load from other substations when needed.“
A spokesperson with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the company supplying the power to MLGW, told us it could not go into details about security protocols but said in a statement:
“TVA is closely monitoring developments with the North Carolina power outage and is coordinating any necessary responses with other federal agencies and utilities. The safety of the public and our employees is our highest priority. TVA uses multiple, overlapping security procedures to protect the resiliency and reliability of our transmission system.
As additional information is gathered, we ask for the public’s help in reporting any suspicious or unusual activities near TVA’s substations or power lines to local law enforcement or by calling the TVA Police at 855-476-2489.“
The person responsible for these attacks in North Carolina has not been caught. The Governor there is offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.