Four electrical substations were vandalized in Washington state on Sunday, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said Monday.
Tacoma Public Utilities reported that two of its substations were vandalized on Christmas morning, with outages affecting roughly 7,300 customers southeast of Tacoma. Around noon on Sunday, Puget Sound Energy reported that one of its substations was vandalized at about 2:30 a.m., and nearly 7,700 customers had lost power. The fourth substation was vandalized shortly after 7 p.m., with emergency dispatchers receiving a call about a fire at a Puget Sound Energy substation in Graham.
All of the substations are in South Pierce County. Sheriff's officials said in each case, someone broke into the fenced area around the substations and damaged the equipment in order to cause a power outage.
Over the last month, there have been six attacks on electrical substations in Washington and Oregon. In early December, tens of thousands of customers in Moore County, North Carolina, were without power after someone "opened fire" on two substations, damaging the equipment, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said. This "wasn't random," he added.
In January, the Department of Homeland Security warned that domestic extremists "have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020." There are more than 6,400 power plants and 450,000 miles of transmission lines in the United States, The Associated Press reports, and a law enforcement official told AP the extremists "feel that disrupting the electrical supply will disrupt the ability of government to operate. And secondly, by conducting attacks against the communications and electrical infrastructure, it will actually accelerate the coming civil war that they anticipate because it will disrupt the lives of so many people that they will lose their faith in government."