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Bill to stiffen penalties for intentional damage to utility equipment advances

This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Tens of thousands were without power in the county after what authorities say was an act of criminal vandalism at multiple substations. The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines reported that infrastructure at the West End substation was damaged.
(John Nagy/The Pilot via AP)
This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Tens of thousands were without power in the county after what authorities say was an act of criminal vandalism at multiple substations. The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines reported that infrastructure at the West End substation was damaged.

A state Senate committee has advanced legislation that would stiffen penalties for intentionally damaging utility equipment after attacks on substations in central North Carolina cause a days-long power outage last year.

The bill would create a new statute making it a high-grade felony to deliberately destroy or damage an energy facility or attempt to do so. It passed the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Environment Committee Tuesday and heads to the Judiciary Committee.

A person with no criminal history could serve just over six years in prison and face up to $250,000 in fines. Prison terms could be longer for those with lengthy records.