Last week a solar plant in the Las Vegas area was damaged when a man rammed his car through the gates and then set it on fire. He’s now facing terror charges. This is only one in a recent string of attacks on the energy infrastructure. Let’s review what’s happened in the past three months.
Timeline of recent infrastructure attacks
- January 4, 2023: Police suspect Mohammed Mesmarian damaged a Las Vegas solar power plant. Part of the facility remains shut down. Police found an iPhone and laptops in the vehicle connected to Mesmarian. When caught by police, Mesmarian claimed he set his car on fire “for the future.” (source)
- Christmas Day, 2022: Four substations in Washington State were damaged. Suspects broke fences and caused fires, ultimately leading to approximately 14,000 people losing power on Christmas evening. (source) Two men, Matthew Greenwood and Jeremy Crahan from Puyallup, WA, were charged. They claimed that they wanted to cause power outages to make it easier for them to steal things. (source)
- December 7, 2022: Shots were fired out of the passenger side of a vehicle near the Wateree Hydro Station in South Carolina. The FBI is investigating; however, witnesses claim that the gunfire wasn’t directed at them or the power station or dam, but into nearby woods. (source)
- December 3, 2022: Gunfire in Moore County, North Carolina damaged two substations. The OP already did a detailed piece on this here. In short, multiple shots were fired at two substations, causing more than 30,000 people to lose power for a few days, and millions of dollars worth of damage. No one has been charged, and no groups have claimed responsibility. (source)
- Late November 2022: Puget Sound Energy in Washington State reported two incidents at substations. They have not been offering any more details because of an ongoing FBI investigation. (source) A Portland General Electric substation was also damaged, but like the damaged substations in Washington, details have not been forthcoming because of the FBI investigation. (source)
- 11/24/22 (Thanksgiving Day): A Clackamas County, Oregon substation was shot up and short outages ensued. (source) No one has been charged. (source)
- Mid-November 2022: Two substations near Woodland, WA two substations were damaged, causing brief outages. (source) No one has been charged. (source)
- November 11, 2022: Transformers in Maysville, North Carolina, were damaged, causing 12,000 people to lose power for about two hours. (source) No one has been charged.
This is a lot of attacks in a short span of time. And the above is a summary of what we know. There are still a lot of unknowns here.
Who’s behind it all?
Within the government, law enforcement communities, and mainstream media, there is a widespread assumption that these attacks are related to white supremacist groups. Several small groups of men with ties to white supremacist groups have been arrested in the past two years for plotting attacks similar to the ones that actually took place, especially the attack in North Carolina.
In the OP article, Mike discusses how the current theory regarding the Moore County substations is that it was some kind of protest about a drag show in town. It’s possible—but nothing has been proven, no one has been charged, no arrests have been made, and no one has claimed responsibility. Terrorists often claim responsibility; that’s usually the point, so they can make their message public.
Greenwood and Crahan, the men charged in the Christmas Day vandalism, have not been linked to any groups so far. And somehow, I doubt a man named Mohammed Mesmarian is a white supremacist, though I could be wrong.
Beyond the damage done, we don’t really know what’s going on here. We don’t know if the attacks are connected. We don’t know if the attacks are ideologically motivated or just part of the general uptick in crime.
A lot going on right now is unexplained. So far, no one has been charged with the fires at food processing facilities, either. Many of them were accidental, but not all. I guess the federal agencies have been too busy making sure no one is subjected to political incorrectness on Twitter to find out what’s going on with actual, physical destructive crime.
Crime, in general, seems to be increasing.
Then, of course, there is the amount of cybercrime.
We still don’t know whether or not the FAA system outage that caused an air traffic nightmare on Wednesday was deliberate or not But we do know that the Colonial Pipeline attack was hacked last year, disrupting fuel supplies along the eastern seaboard for a week.
My neighborhood has been affected a lot by increasing crime over the last three years, and while part of me wishes there was one boogeyman to blame for everything, right now it seems hard to pin these problems on any one thing. There doesn’t seem to be anything solid to react to.
Are you prepared for grid-down scenarios?
All we can do, unless we work for law enforcement agencies, is be proactive in preparing for power outages. If you don’t have some kind of plan in place to be without electricity for an extended time, start thinking about it. Think about the biggest draws on your electrical system. Because most of my appliances are propane, my well is my biggest draw, which is why in the summertime I keep a large amount of water on hand. In the winter, when I’ve got snow on the ground, I worry less.
But plans will look different for everyone. It really depends on what most of your appliances use and your climate particulars. If you only have electric appliances, you need to think about backup generation. Solar happens to be popular in my part of the country but I don’t know how well it would work in places like New England or Minnesota. Start researching now.
Natural gas and propane are great, but understand how they’ll perform in outages. My furnace runs on propane but it still requires an electric spark to kick on, which means it doesn’t work in extended outages. Many newer appliances are like this, and you need to understand how yours work. If you can pay for it, the whole-house generators are a great option because they provide that spark to kick on your furnace.
Get to know your appliances; most of us grew up in a country where we could count on switches to turn things on, but that may be changing. Most of us can’t do much about the crime situation, but we can stay ahead of the curve in our ability to keep our households comfortable and functional.
Don’t be drawn into the propaganda.
And, for the sake of your peace of mind, watch your emotions in case you start slipping into the mindset of blaming one group of people or another. If you’re spending your emotional energy being angry at neo-Nazis, or Islamic terrorists, or whoever, that’s emotional energy not being spent engaging with your children or keeping things pleasant with your coworkers.
I would love it if federal law enforcement agencies found out what was going on and prosecuted these obnoxious vandals. I would also love it if we spent more money strengthening our grid security, but that’s just what I think.
What about you?
Who do you think is responsible for this uptick in attacks on the grid? Do you believe this is intentional and organized? Do you know of any other attacks not mentioned here? And how prepared are you for long-term outages? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments section.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.