Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007 • Fully energized Westwood substation poses life-threatening hazard

Publisher’s note: This story is reprinted from the Tuesay, Feb. 27 edition of the Lassen County Times.

A mobile substation from the Western Area Power Association may be providing power for Lassen Municipal Utility District customers in the Westwood area, but LMUD Engineering and Operations Manager Ray Luhring warned the Westwood substation is still fully energized and poses a risk to vandals who might break into the facility.

Luhring said LMUD employees discovered last week the substation’s perimeter fence had been cut by vandals who apparently were trying to gain access to the equipment inside.

LMUD’s substations are clearly marked with “Danger! High Voltage” signs, and unauthorized entry into a substation can result in serious injury or even death.

In one recent case a 47-year-old man entered a substation in La Center, Washington, by cutting through the fence — allegedly intent on stealing copper wiring to sell as scrap. For an estimated $20 worth of copper this man lost his life.

The cost of substation vandalism is rising, not just by the number of fatalities attributed to the practice of stealing copper wire, but also in the amount it costs the affected utility. Utilities throughout the country have incurred damages totaling millions of dollars.

The recent act of vandalism at LMUD’s Westwood substation will cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to repair. Fortunately, this time, that is all it will cost. The price LMUD will pay to repair the damage seems nominal compared to what may have happened. The vandal or vandals could have very well been injured or killed. Or, one of our employees could have been put in a situation that may have resulted in their death.

Help stop this vandalism by calling LMUD at 257-4174 day or night or by contacting local law enforcement agencies at 911.