The theft occurred Friday, Aug. 20 between 10 and 11 p.m. Four distribution substations and one transmission switching station in Monona County were vandalized. In each case, vandals cut through locked gates and mesh fencing to gain access to the substation equipment where they stripped copper grounding wire attached to the electric componentry and system. This resulted in SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) alarms and calls from passersby who said they saw electrical arcing/fire and open gates and fencing. While electric power was able to be re-routed to prevent outages, all sites required extensive repair to restore normal operations. Two substation sites received major damage, which will require more time to assess and repair.
Copper theft isn’t just criminal; it can be deadly. Copper thefts can cause power surges, outages, fires, explosions, and injuries to workers or innocent people coming into contact with tampered equipment.
Fortunately, in this case, no personal injuries to any WIPCO or NIPCO crews occurred, and minimal power outages were reported. All power related to this vandalism has been restored.
Report any suspicious activities in or around substations or other equipment, such as transformers, power poles, or even a meter at a residence, farm, or business.