HUDSON: One year later

One year ago, on the evening of Dec. 3, 2022, our community was intentionally attacked. Our home, along with 45,000 of our neighbors, went without power for days. In the middle of a winter cold spell, I was concerned about people who were unable to heat their homes. I worried about residents with health issues who rely on electricity to power their medical devices. Schools were shut down during end of year evaluations. Small businesses were forced to close in the midst of holiday shopping. And yet through it all, our community came together.

While the days following the attack were difficult, I am so proud of how our community came together in the face of adversity. It was inspiring to see folks come together in a time of need as churches, small businesses, restaurants, police and fire departments, libraries, and individuals stepped up to help their neighbors and show our strength as a community.

Over the weeks and months that followed, I was in listening mode. I have listened to Moore County residents, grid operators, community developers, federal and local law enforcement, business owners, experts on grid security from Duke Energy and the NC Department of Emergency Management, and others, who all have shared similar concerns with our grid’s security and resilience. I have worked to apply the lessons learned to make sure we reduce the risk of an attack like this happening again.

Attacks on electric grids in the United States that led to widespread power outages increased 71% from 2021 to 2022, and we are on track to meet or exceed last year’s record of 164 major cyber and physical attacks. These figures are extremely alarming and further emphasize the need to secure our energy grid, not just here in the Sandhills, but across the country.

To directly address these concerns, I have focused on leading discussions and advancing legislation to harden our infrastructure, improve grid resilience, and strengthen our supply chains.

I started by securing a classified intelligence briefing for my colleagues in January on the increased level of attacks targeting our nation’s electrical infrastructure, to further understand. In June, I brought members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to Moore County for a field hearing on improving the security and resiliency of our nation’s energy grid. It was important to me that our first hearing was where the attack happened, and that my colleagues heard not just the facts of grid security and resilience—but the people personally affected and their experiences.

Since our Moore County field hearing, I have worked to secure additional Energy and Commerce Committee hearings in Washington. I have spoken directly with witnesses from across the energy industry to further examine emerging threats to our nation’s energy grid, and emphasized the need for reliable energy infrastructure.

Additionally, I secured $1.6 billion dollars in funding to bolster grid security in the 2024 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. This funding will maintain strong energy security and ensure economic competitiveness, while also reining in reckless spending. Grid security is national security, and our community cannot risk a mass power outage that jeopardizes the safety and health of you and your family.

That’s why I introduced the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act, which repeals the Department of Energy’s authority to enforce any new energy efficiency standards for distribution transformers for the next five years. The Department of Energy should be focusing on strengthening the U.S. supply chain for distribution transformers for the next five years – not further disrupting it. In fact, our community’s situation last December would not have been as dire if we had a backup transformer available. We must ensure our electrical manufacturers can continue to do what they do best, without the Biden Administration’s radical energy agenda getting in their way. This bill has been making its way through the Energy and Commerce Committee and I look forward to moving this bill to the House floor soon.

In addition, I reintroduced my bipartisan legislation, the WORKER Act, which will supercharge our nation’s energy workforce by prioritizing education and training for energy and manufacturing jobs when awarding grants to stakeholders. By creating a strong energy workforce and increasing domestic energy production, we can decrease energy costs, restore American energy dominance, and end the Biden administration’s war on energy.

One year after the energy attack on our community, my mission remains the same: I will not stop fighting for grid security and energy independence in Washington. No community across the country should experience what we endured last December.

I want to thank Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields and our local law enforcement for their quick response during those dark days, and for their ongoing investigations to determine who is responsible for last December’s attack. We must hold those responsible for this act accountable and I will continue to support law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.
Even on our darkest days, it is an honor to represent you and this incredible community. As your Congressman, I will continue to make sure Washington pays attention to the concerns and needs of you and your family.

By U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson

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