Around 14,000 utility customers originally lost power early on Sunday due to vandalism at three power substations in western Washington, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
The attacks come after a significant outage in North Carolina earlier this month that required days to repair and as federal officials are warning that the U.S. power infrastructure needs improved protection to prevent domestic terrorism.
The United States. Domestic extremists have been creating “credible, precise plans” to attack energy infrastructure since at least 2020, according to a Department of Homeland Security assessment.
At around 5:30 a.m., Tacoma Public Utilities reported vandalism. According to the sheriff’s office, vandalism occurred on Sunday at one substation and then at another substation.
The outages impacted around 7,300 customers in a region southeast of Tacoma. All the utility’s customers had their power back just before noon, except 2,700, whose electricity was expected to be back around 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, Puget Sound Energy reported vandalism at around 2:30 a.m., just before noon.
On Sunday, one of its substations lost electricity. According to Puget Sound spokesperson Andrew Padula, the power was restored to the almost 7,700 customers who lost it by 5 a.m.
According to Padula, the corporation is looking into it with the authorities but has chosen not to say anything more.
According to the sheriff’s office, someone entered the walled area enclosing the substations in all three instances and damaged equipment, resulting in a power outage.
It is unknown how the substations were harmed, according to officials. There are no suspects in custody, and authorities are unsure if the incident was planned.
Earlier this month, Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District, and Puget Sound Energy confirmed six separate attacks on electrical substations in Washington and Oregon in the preceding weeks, according to reports from Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle.