$75,000 reward offered for info on North Carolina power grid attack

The governor of North Carolina and several other organizations are offering monetary rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the attack that disrupted power to much of Moore County, leaving residents in the dark for nearly a week.

Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that the state of North Carolina, Duke Energy, and Moore County are offering up to $75,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case, with each body offering rewards of up to $25,000.

"An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated," said Cooper in a press release announcing the reward. "I appreciate the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to leave no stone unturned in finding the criminals who did this and I thank Moore County and Duke Energy for matching the state's reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible."

A view of the substation while work is in progress as tens of thousands are without power on Moore County after an attack at two substations. / Credit: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A view of the substation while work is in progress as tens of thousands are without power on Moore County after an attack at two substations. / Credit: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the attack, which authorities have called deliberate, two power substations were damaged with gunfire, causing about 45,000 Duke Energy customers to lose power, rendering wastewater pumps out of order, and closing schools for almost a week. A state of emergency, which included a curfew, has been in place since Sunday, and Moore County officials have said they are investigating one death that may be related to the power outages.

Representatives from Duke Energy have estimated that power would likely be restored to all customers by Wednesday evening. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, spokesperson Jeff Brooks said that customers are being brought online a "few thousand at a time" and estimated that only 1,200 customers remained without power. Final restorations will likely be completed on schedule, Brooks said, a day earlier than initial projections.

The case is also being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. On Wednesday, the FBI published a poster seeking information about the person or persons responsible for the incident.

On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addressed the situation, saying the attack "appears to have been deliberate."

"We are working with energy companies in local communities to address the situation impacting the power that reaches homes in the targeted neighborhoods," Mayorkas said. "The question is, is it an act of malfeasance or otherwise? Early evidence suggests that it was deliberate. And the investigation is underway."

CBS News cybersecurity expert Chris Krebs said on Wednesday that there are now concerns about copycat attacks, as online chatter about possible assaults on substations increases.

"This attacker knew exactly where to hit and they did it deliberately and they did it multiple times and they did it very thoroughly," he said. "There is absolutely a playbook."

Mark Strassmann contributed reporting.

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