Co-op Employs Quick Thinking, Creative Solutions to Reduce Outages After Substation Attack

Randolph EMC’s tielines enabled the co-op to restore service to members on a rolling basis due until Duke Energy’s repairs could be made. (Photo By: Tucker Hayes/Hayes House Productions)

Editor’s Note: Randolph EMC announced Wednesday morning that permanent, full power had been restored to its Moore County substations and members. The co-op is no longer asking members to conserve electricity.

A North Carolina electric cooperative’s quick thinking and creative solution has restored intermittent power to members after two Duke Energy transmission substations were attacked by gunfire over the weekend.

Randolph Electric Membership Corp. officials said 2,768 of its members were impacted by the outage.

The Asheboro-based co-op immediately responded by dispatching crews to assess the damage and craft a plan to restore service to members as quickly as possible.

“That transmission line fed our Eastwood substation and our Seven Lakes substation,” said Dale Lambert, CEO of Randolph EMC. “Service cannot be [fully] restored to Randolph EMC substations until the repairs are made.”

Early Sunday morning, co-op crews, aided by mutual aid personnel and contractors from the surrounding areas, began building more than two miles of new lines to connect the co-op’s de-energized lines to available power supplied from other locations. The tielines have enabled the co-op to restore service to members on a rolling basis due to power constraints.

“These tielines will allow us to pick up some of the members who are affected, but not all at the same time,” said Lambert, who is using social media messages and videos to help keep co-op members informed.

Randolph EMC crews, with help from mutual aid personnel, worked to build more than two miles of new lines to reconnect de-energized lines to available power in the immediate aftermath of the substation attacks. (Photo By: Tucker Hayes/Hayes House Productions)

Randolph EMC is urging members in the affected area who have power to conserve electricity so that what is available will not overload the newly constructed, temporary system.

“We have provided rotating intervals of power, but we will not rest until our Moore County members are fully restored. They are our top priority,” said Lambert.

The tieline buildouts were completed Monday night. They involved upgrades to existing lines and construction of a new three-phase line.

“This is an unprecedented outage that’s drawn national attention because of the crime that occurred,” said Lambert. He added that the Moore County Sheriff’s Department has increased patrols around the co-op’s assets since Saturday to help discourage further criminal activity.

The FBI and state authorities are assisting local law enforcement with the investigation.

“These kinds of things cannot happen,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper during a briefing on Monday. “We cannot tolerate this kind of wide power outage to so many people.”

Duke Energy said it will cost several million dollars to repair its equipment and it could be at least Thursday before power transmission from the two damaged sites can be restored.

Local officials have opened temporary shelters to assist those without power, and the intermittent energized periods are now allowing some businesses to operate, restoring access to gasoline, groceries, medical care and other necessities.

Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.