Copper Thieves Cause Power Outage and Rack Up $50,000 in Damage
Pacific Power Press Release regarding copper wire thefts and power outages in Walla Walla County:
From Tom Gauntt of Pacific Power:
Pacific Power is working with Walla Walla County law enforcement officials to apprehend copper thieves who caused more than $50,000 in damage on March 28 and cut electrical service to more than 1,000 customers for eight hours.
“Stealing wire creates an unnecessary burden on our customers and we are taking aggressive action to stop it,” said Bill Clemens Pacific Power’s regional business manager.
“Removing wire put our crews at risk as they go about their work on the local power grid, and add expense to the system at a time we’re working to reduce cost and minimize any future rate increases. Resulting outages inconvenience our customers, and the thieves themselves are in mortal danger as they perform these criminal acts.”
The theft was discovered March 28 by an observant lineman who noticed an open gate. He found that the lock had been sawed through. Inside, all of the copper grounding wire within the substation on Dodd Road in Wallula had been removed. Without grounding wire, a substation is unsafe to work in. The lineman immediately reported the theft.
In order to replace the grounding wire, it was necessary to turn off the substation, which inconvenienced more than 1,000 customers nearby for 8 hours as a crew worked until after midnight to replace the grounding wire to make the substation safe again.
Thieves hit a second substation in the area the weekend of April 7. The damage was less extensive in that instance and no outage resulted. The cost of repair has not yet been calculated.
Law enforcement officials and Pacific Power are asking residents to report if they saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of Dodd Road between Railex and Sundance Roads March 26, 27 or 28. In addition, please call local law enforcement if you hear of anyone seeking to sell a large quantity of copper wire.
If residents see any suspicious activity around power poles or substations do not confront these individuals, but call 911. If someone has knowledge of past incidents, please call 509-527-1960, the sheriff’s non-emergency number.