At least five attacks at electricity substations in the Pacific Northwest have been reported to the FBI in recent weeks.
The incidents came to light via a federal memo following a deliberate attack last week in Moore County, North Carolina, that left tens of thousands of people without power for days as seasonal temperatures fall.
In Washington state and Oregon, spokespeople for several energy companies – Puget Sound Energy, the Cowlitz County Public Utilities District and Bonneville Power Administration – confirmed the attacks occurred in November.
A federal law enforcement memo revealed that the Pacific Northwest substations have described attacks using ‘handtools, arson, firearms, and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure.’
‘In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security fences by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and on to equipment,’ read the memo.
A spokesperson for BPA, Douglas Johnson, said the company suffered a ‘deliberate physical attack’ at a Clackamas, Oregon substation over Thanksgiving and that fencing and equipment were damaged.
He added that the company is ‘actively cooperating with the FBI on this incident and has encouraged other utilities throughout the region to increase their vigilance and report any suspicious or similar activity to law enforcement.’
He did not offer specific details about the damage to the substation’s equipment, only that the cost of its repair would be passed on to customers of the public utility.
The FBI would not confirm or deny that it is investigating the attacks, though the companies said they are cooperating with a federal investigation.
Gerald Tracy, the media engagement program manager at Puget Sound Energy said that he was unable to ‘comment on the incidents because they are both an ongoing investigation involving the FBI.’
Read More: Five electricity substations in Oregon and Washington are attacked