Copper thieves caused today’s North Spokane power outage   

Tags: Avista Utilities, Electricity

Cooper wire, used in electrical grid as ground wire.
Copper wire similar to this coil, was stolen from a
North Spokane substation, causing a 1.5 hour
power outage for roughly 3,600 Avista customers
Post by Dan Kolbet

This morning’s one hour and 30 minute power outage that impacted roughly 3,600 North Spokane customers was caused by copper theft at a substation near Spokane Falls Community College. Thieves stole copper from the substation and also damaged communications equipment.

The theft was not the first time this year that thieves targeted Avista substations in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area. Copper is traditionally used by utilities to ground the electrical equipment in substations that help deliver customers’ power. Thieves tend to snip the copper ground wires that help the electrical system maintain an even electrical voltage and complete the electrical circuit.

The outage occurred around 7 a.m. this morning, a time when customers begin to use more power as the morning progresses. The substation was forced offline, causing the outage. Avista rerouted power through additional substations nearby, to get power restored to customers quickly.

While all customers are back in service now, the substation remained offline throughout the day as repairs were made.

Copper theft is a serious crime that endangers the general public, Avista employees and of course the thieves themselves.

Avista was instrumental in passing a 2007 Washington state law making it harder to sell metals without proper documentation. The law requires that buyers of scrap metal help law enforcement identify sellers of illegally obtained metal.  (RCW 19.290).

Also read
Avista Blog, December 12, 2012: North Idaho copper thief cheats death
Posted by  System Account  on  9/5/2012
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