Three weeks before someone shot and damaged two power substations in Moore County, another substation was deliberately disabled near the Eastern North Carolina town of Maysville.
The substation was damaged on Friday, Nov. 11, shutting down electricity for about 12,000 homes and businesses served by the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.
CCEC says it was able to reroute power around the station and fully restore electricity in about two hours.
In a statement posted on its website a few days after the incident, the cooperative describes it as “vandalism.” The company said vandals damaged transformers, causing them to leak coolant oil, but the statement doesn’t say how.
Spokeswoman Melissa Glenn said this week that the company is not saying more about the damage.
“Right now, because it’s an ongoing investigation, and because it’s separate from everything that’s going on in Moore County, we are going to withhold comment until we have more information,” Glenn said in an interview. “And we will share that whenever we are given the go-ahead from the authorities to do so.”
The Jones County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation, with help from the State Bureau of Investigation. An SBI spokeswoman referred questions to the sheriff’s office, which did not respond to a request for comment.
In the company’s statement, Jake Joplin, CCEC’s general manager and CEO, urged whoever was responsible to turn themselves in.
“CCEC condemns this senseless act of vandalism,” Joplin said. “Those who are responsible for attacking our system should know that CCEC and law enforcement will not rest until they are brought to justice. They must also know that attacking the electrical grid is a serious criminal act.”
The CCEC substation is located on an isolated stretch of N.C. 58 about five miles outside Maysville, which is about halfway between Jacksonville and New Bern. The station is surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.
The agencies investigating the Moore County attacks have also disclosed little about what happened, other than to say the equipment was hit by gunfire and that the shooters knew what they were doing. More than 45,000 Duke Energy customers lost power when substations in Carthage and west of Pinehurst were disabled within an hour of each other Saturday evening.
The Moore County outage lasted for days while the company replaced large pieces of equipment that had been damaged beyond repair. That work was completed Wednesday morning, and power was restored to nearly every customer in the county by 5 p.m.