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Energy subcommittee holds hearing after Moore County substation attacks

A Duke Energy substation.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy officials told a congressional House subcommittee in Pinehurst Friday that the company has made several security improvements in response to December’s attacks on substations in Moore County.

However, there is no guarantee that something similar won’t happen again, testified Duke’s Mark Aysta, the company’s managing director of enterprise security.

“That’s the reality of operating an electrical system that spans nearly 100,000 square miles and includes thousands of substations and millions of components,” said Aysta.

Aysta did not provide specific security improvements. But in the event of another massive blackout, he said Duke has new response protocols to deliver parts quickly.

“We've identified opportunities to increase security and surveillance and we're developing implementation schedules for this work,” Aysta said.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy Climate and Grid Security hearing was held in Pinehurst, the largest town in Moore County. On December 3, two Duke Energy electrical substations were damaged by gunfire and caused 45,000 customers to be without power for several days. No one has been arrested

Rep. Richard Hudson was among the Moore County residents without power. He asked Aysta if Duke could have “microgrids” so that blackouts don’t affect such large numbers of people.

“The grid is very complicated and very interconnected. What I'd like to do is be able to take that question back to my team and then circle back with you,” Aysta said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation Thursday that strengthens penalties for attacking utility infrastructure, including phone and broadband facilities.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.