Theft causes power outage

Avista blames stolen copper, equipment failure

Print Article

Roughly 6,000 were without power Monday morning across Kootenai County and part of Spokane, when theft at an Avista Utilities substation led to two stations being off line.

Avista crews discovered early Monday that copper wiring had been clipped from equipment in a dozen places at the substation at Prairie Avenue and Huetter Road, which resulted in power operating at lower levels.

The utility decided to take the station off line and transfer customers to the Appleway substation, where other pieces of equipment failed in the process.

That left both stations off line, and thousands in the dark across Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, Rathdrum, Post Falls, lower Pend Oreille and central Spokane.

"We intended to only have one (substation) out, with no customers impacted," explained Dan Kolbet, Avista spokesman.

As crews worked to restore power, a couple thousand customers' service was restored mid morning. More than 3,000 were without power in Post Falls and Rathdrum areas until after 1 p.m.

The copper theft looks to have been quite an undertaking, Kolbet noted.

The culprit cut through barbed wire topping the several-foot-high fence around the substation, he said, then used bolt cutters to harvest the copper wire inside.

"To be perfectly honest, it's a brazen act of stupidity," Kolbet said, noting the high risk of electrocution. "That puts not only the life of the person stealing the equipment in danger, but also our customers and employees."

The company sees copper thefts on a monthly basis, he said, usually off power lines, which is also risky.

Theft at sub stations are rare, he said.

"(Copper) is of value and can be reused," Kolbet said, adding that the substation's copper will likely be replaced with aluminum.

Lt. Stuart Miller with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department said there wasn't information on Monday about leads, or if anyone witnessed the theft.

"Does it surprise me? No," Miller said of the situation. "Unfortunately, people are trying to get money any way they can, and this seems to be one way of doing it."

He saw a similar situation last year, he said, when a man tried stealing copper from a Worley substation and accidentally electrocuted himself. He was found walking dazed through a field, Miller said.

"I would think people would have some more common sense," Miller said. "Theft is bad enough, but that's poor decision making."

Sgt. Christie Wood with the Coeur d'Alene Police Department said there were too many intersection lights out on Monday for officers to direct traffic.

North Idaho College was among the entities impacted by the outage on Monday morning, said spokeswoman Stacy Hudson.

The majority of the campus was out, she said. Most classes were able to continue with natural light until the power returned around 10 a.m., she said.

"It's just kind of funny, today is the first day of spring semester," Hudson said. "The timing is always incredible."

Print Article

Read More Local News

A good day for a run

April 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By JASON ELLIOTT Staff Writer COEUR d’ALENE — Some participants used Sunday’s 35th annual Spring Dash in downtown Coeur d’Alene as an opportunity to see what kind of shape they were in following ...

Comments

Read More

Celebrate Arbor Day

April 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Christmas isn't the only holiday when trees are special. Friday is Arbor Day, a day to celebrate our coniferous and deciduous oxygen-producing friends. Starting today, while at your child's favor...

Comments

Read More

JARED HELM: Making a difference right now

April 23, 2017 at 9:53 am | Coeur d'Alene Press COEUR d’ALENE — “Life is a journey, not a destination.” “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” For many, those phrases are simply sayings, cool statements to make on T-shirts or social media posts. But...

Comments

Read More

Mountain Man Seth Kinman’s bears, chairs, Indians and presidents

April 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press He stood more than 6 feet tall — big in those days — and all you could see of mountain man Seth Kinman were his forehead, cheeks, nose and eyes — all the rest was hair. He killed grizzly bears, elk,...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X