State and federal officials investigating Randolph County substation damage

RALEIGH — State and federal law enforcement officials are investigating a gunfire incident at a Randolph County power substation. 

The incident involved a transformer at an EnergyUnited power substation in Randolph County that sustained damage from gunfire. Investigators believe the incident occurred sometime around 3 a.m. on Jan. 17, according to a statement from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office received a call there had been damage to the substation on Post Road in Thomasville that morning. 

The substation serves around 1,500 customers, however, none of them lost power because the load was transferred to another area substation. The impacted area of service included Trinity, Thomasville, and areas of Davidson County south of Thomasville. 

EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is headquartered in Statesville, North Carolina.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were informed.  Per the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is conducting a parallel investigation.

The investigation is still ongoing, and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations at 336-318-6658 or Randolph County Crime Stoppers tip line at 336-672-7463. 

Anonymous tips may also be submitted via the Sheriff’s Office app or Crime Stoppers app. (Information about those apps is available on the Sheriff’s Office website.)       

On Jan. 17, EnergyUnited issued the following statement:

EnergyUnited officials responded to an alarm that notified personnel of an equipment issue at its Pleasant Hill Substation early Tuesday morning. Crews were dispatched to assess the situation and discovered damage to the substation transformer from an apparent gunshot. The damage was quickly assessed and contained to mitigate the impact to members in the Pleasant Hill area and law enforcement officials were notified. EnergyUnited members who are served by this substation did not experience an outage as a result of the cooperative’s swift response.

“EnergyUnited continually strives to deliver safe, reliable energy to its members,” said Steve McCachern, vice president of energy delivery for EnergyUnited. “While we are glad that our members did not experience any service interruptions, we take this matter very seriously and are currently investigating the incident.”  

Staying ahead of any challenge is a collaborative effort. EnergyUnited is collaborating with electric cooperatives, industry partners, peer organizations, as well as federal, state, and local officials to share information that improves member service and strengthens critical systems. Additionally, EnergyUnited encourages community members to share information with the cooperative and local officials whenever suspicious activity is observed near any of its substations or facilities.  

The Randolph substation incident is the third such occurrence in North Carolina in the last three months.

On Dec. 3, 2022, an attack on multiple substations operated by Duke Energy in Moore County also involved gunfire and caused significant damage. The damage resulted in 45,000 customers being left without power for several days.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a press release on Dec. 7 announcing that the state, Moore County and Duke Energy were each offering monetary awards of $25,000 each in the substation attack cases.

Nearly a month before the Moore County attack, on Nov. 11, 2022, a property owned by the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative (CCEC) in the Jones County town of Maysville was damaged. More than 12,000 CCEC customers were without power for approximately two hours, according to a statement from the cooperative.

By A.P. Dillon