Co-op power outage caused by copper theft

A power outage during the evening of June 25 was caused by the theft of copper cables from the grounds of the Bridgewater substation owned by New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, the utility said.The cooperative said it was alerted to the intrusion late Saturday night when voltage sensors indicated a problem inside the Bridgewater substation located off Route 3. A passerby also reported seeing sparks and electrical arcing coming from a regulator inside the substation.After investigating, cooperative crews were able to determine that the security fence surround the substation had been cut and varying lengths of copper cable were removed.The vandalism caused severe damage to one of three regulators at the substation and required a power outage of 48 minutes to bypass the damaged equipment and restore power, according to the utility.A total of 2,573 NHEC members were affected in the towns of Bridgewater, Plymouth, Holderness, New Hampton, Bristol and Center Harbor.”Given the fact that dozens of people have died trying to steal copper from substations, this is not just a criminal act – it’s an extremely dangerous one,” said NHEC Safety Administrator Jim Horan, adding that the perpetrator(s) were “extremely lucky” to not be electrocuted when they cut through the cable grounding the 7,200-volt regulator.There has been a worldwide outbreak of copper thefts over the last several months, prompted by record prices for copper and other metals. — JEFF FEINGOLD/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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