According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, vandalism at three power substations in western Washington early Sunday knocked out power to approximately 14,000 utility customers.
The attacks come as federal officials warn that the United States power grid requires improved security to avoid domestic terrorism following a major outage in North Carolina earlier this month that took days to repair.
According to a January report from the US Department of Homeland Security, domestic extremists have been developing “credible, specific plans” to attack electricity infrastructure since 2020.
According to the sheriff’s office, Tacoma Public Utilities reported vandalism at one substation around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, preceded by vandalism at a second substation. The outages impacted around 7,300 customers in a region southeast of Tacoma. All customers had their power back just before noon, except 2,700, whose power was expected to be restored around 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, just before noon, Puget Sound Energy reported that vandalism that had occurred at one of its substations around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday had resulted in a power outage. According to Puget Sound spokesperson Andrew Padula, the power was restored to the nearly 7,700 customers who lost it by 5 a.m. According to Padula, the company is looking into it with the authorities but has chosen not to say anything more.
According to the sheriff’s office, someone entered the fenced 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 attack was planned.
Earlier this month, Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District, and Puget Sound Energy confirmed six distinct attacks on electrical substations in Washington and Oregon in the preceding weeks, according to reports from Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle.