40K lose power in substation shooting: FOX13 Investigates safety of power grid

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — About 40,000 people were without power in North Carolina on Monday after law enforcement said two power substations were found riddled with bullet holes.

Federal authorities were looking for the suspects who did it.

The shooting prompts some questions: How protected is our power system? What are local power companies doing to protect our power?

FOX13 looked into what safety measures are being taken to keep the power on.

North Central Electric said that they are doing everything it can to protect the power and to increase security at substations.

North Central serves about 36,000 customers in North Mississippi.

Michael Bellipanni with North Central talked about the security measures taken at the substations.

”Every one of our substations is protected with barriers to keep people out,” he said. “We also use surveillance and setbacks to protect the infrastructure there, but we may have to take a different approach because there is only so much you can do against a high-powered rifle.”

Bellipanni said that there are redundancies in place to help keep the power on, but he could not go into detail because of security reasons.

”It is there, so we can provide alternate feeds in the event that something like this happens the power is redirected in other ways so we are not so dependent on that substation,” Bellipanni said.

An attack on a substation is considered a federal crime and homeland security would be in charge of investigating such a case.

The trouble is replacing anything damaged would take time.

”With an issue like this, it brings up a greater issue of what the supply chain issue is that our industry is facing,” Bellipanni said. “Transformers and in particular distribution transformers that would be sized for substations are 12-18 months out for production, so it brings about serious concerns when it comes to delay.”