(NewsNation) — Duke Energy said Wednesday that all substation equipment damaged by recent vandalism has been either “fully repaired or replaced,” and that they will start bringing power back gradually in North Carolina’s Moore County.
The company aims to have the majority of customers restored before midnight Wednesday, Duke’s website said.
Authorities said the outages in Moore County began after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to the two substations, breached the gates and opened fire.
Officials have called the North Carolina outages a series of coordinated attacks on power substations.
At one point this past weekend, 45,000 customers were without power. By comparison, fewer than 20,000 customers were without power in Moore County as of late Wednesday morning.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said the damage is being investigated as a criminal act.
State investigators are working with the FBI to determine who is responsible for what Fields said is a “targeted” attack. Law enforcement provided security at the substations and for nearby businesses.
NewsNation exclusively obtained a recent federal law enforcement memo warning of similar incidents in other areas.
The memo reads, in part:
Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using hand tools, arson, firearms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure. … In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment.
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Officials, however, told NewsNation that it is too early to determine a motive.
There have been similar cases of vandalism in North Carolina. Sheriff’s deputies in Jones County reported on Nov. 11 that criminal vandalism caused 12,000 people to lose power for days. That investigation is also ongoing, and no suspects have been identified.
Federal authorities have warned the country about domestic terrorism-related threats to infrastructure in the past, and did so again with an alert bulletin on Nov. 30.
“Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents,” the alert said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.