By Rick Sallinger

(CBS4) – Xcel Energy has acknowledged to CBS4 it is aware of an alleged plot to disable the nation’s power grid, which included a possible attack on an El Paso County substation.

FILE PHOTO (credit: Steve Hockstein/Bloomberg/iStock/Getty Images)

The FBI is investigating a neo-Nazi group that is believed to have been planning an attack on the United States power grid. The plot was being called “Lights Out.” One of the targeted structures that is mentioned is outside of Colorado Springs. It’s called “Midway” and it is operated by Xcel.

The information is contained in a search warrant affidavit that was
accidently unsealed in federal court in Wisconsin. The warrant is to seek information on a cell phone number from the telephone company service provider.

The affidavit details an alleged plot naming three people who have not been charged so far in this case. It was reviewed by CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger on Sunday Dec. 13. The next day, the warrant was resealed and no longer open to public viewing. It says the plot is to disable power substations in the southeastern United States and in El Paso County Colorado.

The affidavit cites an informant as claiming the target date to carry out the attack was to be for 2024, but sooner if Donald Trump was to lose the 2020
election.

The federal court document describes one of the alleged plotters planning to travel to Denver. There he hoped to meet up with an author popular in neo-Nazi circles.

The request for a search warrant says the plotters consulted an online U.S. Department of Energy web site that detailed the power grid and power stations critical to it.

The informant told law enforcement that the group planned to fire rifles into the power facilities. The court document states those under investigation referenced the white supremacist group “Atomwaffen.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Atomwaffen Division as “organized as a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse.” It adds that their strategy can be traced back to “The Order” in the 1980s.

In 1984 members of The Order carried out a series of crimes as part of a plot designed to overthrow the U.S. government. Among the acts of which members were convicted was the killing of KOA radio talk show host Alan Berg. He was shot to death in the driveway of his Denver home.

A spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin acknowledged the search warrant tied to the “Lights Out” plot, but
would not comment further.

Michelle Aguayo, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy issued a statement to CBS4 which says, “Keeping the grid safe is a priority for Xcel Energy as well as our partners across the electric industry. Maintaining that security is complex and demands constant vigilance. We work closely with the industry and government partners, including law enforcement on all potential threats, while continuing to deliver safe and reliable service to our customers.”

It continues, “While we are aware of the situation and take all reports involving security seriously, as a practice we do not provide public comment on specific threats to our system. Please direct any questions you may have to law enforcement.”

Rick Sallinger