RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy said it expects to be able to restore power by Wednesday night to a county where electric substations were attacked by gunfire.
Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said the company expects to have power back Wednesday just before midnight in Moore County. The company had previously estimated it would be restored Thursday morning.
About 35,000 Duke energy customers were still without power Tuesday, down from more than 45,000 at the height of the outage Saturday.
Authorities have said the outages began shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them.
Authorities have not released a motive or said what kind of weapon was used.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called for a thorough assessment of the state’s critical infrastructure Tuesday morning at a Council of State meeting — a collective body of elected officials comprising the executive branch. He said this will likely include discussions with federal regulators, lawmakers and utility companies about how to bolster security and prevent future attacks.
In the short-term, the state has sent generators to Moore County and is helping feed residents. Law enforcement in surrounding counties has been more vigilant about monitoring nearby substations since the attack, he said.
“This seemed to be too easy,” Cooper said after the meeting. “People knew what they were doing to disable the substation, and for that much damage to be caused — causing so much problem, economic loss, safety challenges to so many people for so long — I think we have to look at what we might need to do to harden that infrastructure.”
Mike Causey, the North Carolina insurance commissioner and state fire marshal, called the attack “a wakeup call to provide better security at our power substations.”
Many businesses around the county that’s about 60 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of the state capital of Raleigh are closed at a normally busy time of year for tourism and holiday shopping. Schools are also closed and traffic lights are out around the area.
Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.