COPPER clad cables are replacing pure copper grading rings as Western Power tries to deter thieves.
The power utility reported that it spends about $180,000 a year repairing damage from people who steal copper from its network to make quick cash.
The copper grading rings earth the ‘green box’ distribution substations and thieves have increasingly targeted them in recent years, leaving potential safety risks.
The utility’s asset management executive manager Sean Mc Goldrick said about 130 sites throughout the metropolitan area were targeted every year by people taking advantage of copper’s value as scrap metal.
“When criminals rip up the copper grading ring it can cause damage to the substation and potentially leaves it unearthed and a danger to the public,” he said.
“We are swapping the pure copper cable with a copper clad cable which means all that thieves will find now is a cable that has zero value as scrap but maintains Western Power’s high safety standards.”
Mr Mc Goldrick said there was a small saving in the material cost and bigger savings came with the reduction of repair and clean-up costs.
“On average Western Power would spend nearly $180,000 a year repairing the damage from copper thieves but the number of times we have been called out for repairs has already begun to fall,” he said.
“So over the next 15 years we will be looking at a projected total saving of around $2.7 million from this simple and safe change to the way we do work on the network,” he said.
Mr Mc Goldrick said that since the roll out started, there had been a reduction in the number of distribution substations targeted and in those targeted several times.
“The message is getting through that there is no value for copper thieves on these distribution substations,” he said.
Western Power will continue to roll the copper clad cable out at all distribution substations until all appropriate sites have been converted.
Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to report suspicious activity.