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News Release
Copper thieves cause power outage - 04/10/18

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Tom Gauntt, Pacific Power,                                         April 10, 2018



Copper thieves cause power outage

Customers suffer outage as recent theft at substation provides reminder that wire thieves steal from all

Wallula, Wash. – 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.




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Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 740,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. Our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar, and safe, reliable electricity. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with 1.8 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit

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