For all of the accolades that make Georgia such a great place to live, work and play, its unceremonious ranking as one of the top states in the nation in terms of metal theft isn't one of them. That's why Georgia Transmission has been at the forefront of the fight against this serious criminal threat that not only endangers the reliability of our electrical grid, but also the personal safety of our workers.
A costly problemWith hundreds of metal theft incidents at Georgia substations, the cost is high for everyone involved. The estimated cost per incident -- including labor to repair damages -- is roughly $6,000, even though the thieves get only a few hundred dollars worth of metal.
Beyond the financial costs, there's a safety issue. Metal thieves typically try to steal ground wires, and removing the grounds can make the substations insecure and dangerous. The person stealing the metal could hit a stray wire or cut the wrong line, resulting in injury or death, as well as create dangerous conditions for our employees who are working at these substations.
A proactive approachPartnering with local law enforcement agencies, Georgia Transmission is actively working to raise the awareness of the seriousness of metals theft, as well as provide the logistical and tactical support for their investigations and prosecutions. Georgia Transmission offers a reward of up to $3,000 to individuals who provide any information that leads to an arrest and conviction in a copper theft case.
Electric utilities in Georgia also are working with the scrap recyclers to educate them on the type of copper cable that is typically stolen inside the substations. This aids law enforcement agencies in apprehending the perpetrators when they go to sell the stolen copper.
The bottom lineMetals theft is a serious problem confronting our industry, and it's a primary reason why, in 2012, we supported legislation in the Georgia General Assembly that established a better way of tracking the recycling industry. We remain committed to leading the fight against this threat, and to provide safe, reliable power for our state.
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Oglethorpe Power Corp.
Georgia System Operations Corp.
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Rural Utilities Service
Electric Power Research Institute