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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Some academics and a former CIA director are urging North Carolina state lawmakers to require better protection of electricity transmission systems from solar flares and cyber and terrorist attacks.

Tuesday’s comments from ex-director James Woolsey to a legislative oversight committee anchored a presentation about potential calamity should large transformers be damaged severely by a widespread weather event or disruption of Earth’s magnetic field.

Peter Pry with the Task Force on National and Homeland Security says Congress has failed to act but the General Assembly could set state requirements to secure extra high-voltage transformers and other structures. Speakers estimated North Carolina protections could cost $20 million annually or less.

Lawmakers asked why utilities couldn’t pay. Committee co-chairman Sen. Bob Rucho says he’ll ask utility representatives to respond at a later meeting.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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