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  • Writer's pictureDhruti Pattabhi

The North Carolina Blackouts

(Mx. Granger/Wikimedia Commons)

Shadowed by a national cold front, tens of thousands of North Carolinians were also left without electricity. As the potential for domestically violent acts comes to light, the spontaneous power outages that sparked initial confusion spiral into millions of dollars in damage, a countywide state of emergency, and FBI involvement.


On December 3, at around 7 P.M., two Duke Energy electric power stations were impaired by gunfire — an act that officials deemed “malicious” and “intentional”. The power outage in Moore County, North Carolina, persisted until December 7, when the last of the 45,000 individuals affected eventually obtained electrical service.

Impact and Repercussions:

On the afternoon of Sunday, December 4, one day after the initial attack on power stations, a countywide state of emergency was declared and a nightly curfew was implemented alongside school closures. Shelters were opened and individuals were encouraged to conserve fuel. Despite these efforts to preserve resources, the rural portions of Moore County were still impeded by low water supply, and small businesses were severely impacted. Throughout the blackout, the lack of cell phone service hindered communication, further accentuating confusion. Civilians pronounced inaccessibility to food and warmth, and generator burnout threatened total isolation.


“Clearly this an extreme act to intentionally disable this substation… I think we’re going to have to reassess our security." – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

At the state level, the North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, spoke with the CEO of Duke Energy, Lynn Good, to offer assistance and take supplemental measures to refine power security. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continues to probe the cause of the initial gunfire. A decree of $75,000 in reward money was proclaimed to harness further criminal information on the matter.

At the federal level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) evaluates sources of the gunfire and potential suspects. The FBI had initial warnings of motivated extremist ideology “to create civil disorder and inspire further violence,” according to a November 22 bulletin sent to private industries, but the warnings traced back to unrelated, spontaneous acts of violence. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre states in a press briefing, “Local law enforcement is receiving federal support on the investigation. We will continue to let that investigation play out.” The Department of Homeland Security also issued a bulletin viewing the power grid as a "particularly attractive target" for civil disturbance. The federal government remains active on the blackout case, both for civil security and civil aid reasons.

The North Carolina blackouts, although limited to one county, may augment implications beyond the state — shining a light on the security of the nation’s power grids and reinforcing civil security.



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