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Criminal investigations underway after continued power grid attacks

Posted at 3:59 PM, Dec 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-29 09:53:00-05

It was a Christmas present nobody wanted — yet another attack on the power system in the U.S. 

"In this one, the suspects cut one of the locks on the fence area, made their way inside and caused damage to the substation, which ultimately knocked out power for a large amount of residents in the county," said Sgt. Darrien Moss Jr. with the Pierce County Sheriff's Dept.

In Washington state, that attack and two others knocked out power to about 14,000 customers. 

"All three happened in the middle of the night on Christmas Day, causing power outages. Nothing was stolen from any of those facilities, so there's a good possibility they are related," Moss continued. 

SEE MORE: 3 Washington State Electric Substations Vandalized

The attacks, plus another Sunday night at a Puget Sound energy substation, are the latest in a rash of incidents. Politico reports 2022 had the highest number of attacks on the nation's power grid system in a decade, with more than 100 physical and cyber strikes through August. 

Recent months have seen damage to substations in Ohio, Oregon and North Carolina. Mark Christie, a commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says the damage to substations reflect an escalation in assaults. 

"Transformers are out there in every city block and they're vulnerable to a drunk with a gun and attitude and we have a lot of incidents like that. That's not unusual," he said. "A transformer knocks out a block or two. A substation [affects] several tens of thousands of people." 

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