Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 58, Protect Critical Infrastructure, into law earlier this year. The bill imposes harsher penalties on those who attack critical utility infrastructure.
Cooperatives across North Carolina supported this bill as protecting electric infrastructure is important in helping us deliver reliable electricity to our members. Piedmont Electric Cooperative has taken steps to further strengthen our infrastructure’s security in response to the recent attacks that occurred in November and December of 2022 in Moore and Jones County NC. Cooperatives across the state are applying innovative technologies to improve grid resilience and reliability to consumer-members.
The bill, which passed unanimously, increases penalties for acts that damage utility systems and equipment, including the energy grid, as well as for trespassing. It also increases penalties for “willful injury to wires and other fixtures of telephone, broadband, broadcast, or cable telecommunications.”
The new penalties include up to six years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for those who damage utility infrastructure. The law also allows individuals injured “by reason of damage to an energy facility” to file lawsuits against those found to have caused the damage.
Should an attack on critical infrastructure cause a death, the perpetrator could face a Class B2 felony, typically associated with a charge of second-degree murder in North Carolina and carrying a maximum punishment of more than 40 years. Inform local sheriff offices if you are knowledgeable of any activities that have the potential to damage or have damaged utility infrastructure.