3 substations damaged in Washington state

Vandalism at three substations in western Washington initially left about 14,000 utility customers without power early Sunday, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said.

The attack came as federal officials warned that the U.S. power grid needs better security measures to prevent domestic terrorism, and after a major outage in North Carolina earlier this month took days to fix.

In January, a DHS report warned that since at least 2020, domestic extremists have been developing “credibly specific plans” to attack power infrastructure.

Tacoma Utilities reported vandalism at one substation around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by vandalism at a second substation, the sheriff’s office said. The outage affected approximately 7,300 customers in the southeast Tacoma area. Just before noon, the utility had restored power to all but 2,700 customers, who were estimated to have power restored around 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, just before noon, Puget Sound Energy reported that vandalism at around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday caused a power outage at one of the substations. Puget Sound spokesman Andrew Padula said nearly 7,700 customers who were without power were restored by 5 a.m. Padula said the company was investigating with authorities but declined to comment further.

In all three cases, the sheriff’s office said someone forced their way into the fenced-in area around the substation and damaged equipment, causing power outages.

Officials did not say how the substation was damaged. No suspects were taken into custody, and officials did not know if it was a coordinated attack.

Oregon Public Broadcasting and Seattle’s KUOW-FM reported earlier this month that Portland General Electric, Bonneville Power Authority, Cowlitz County Utility District and Puget Sound Energy confirmed that the Over the past few weeks, there have been six separate attacks on substations in Washington and Oregon.