NORTH SPOKANE-- Copper thieves are to blame for a North Spokane power outage that affected 3,600 customers.
The outage occurred around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning and lasted for about ninety minutes. Avista said the outage was caused by copper theft at a substation near Spokane Falls Community College. Thieves stole copper from the substation and also damaged communications equipment.
The substation was forced offline, causing the outage. Avista rerouted power through additional substations nearby, to get power restored to customers.
The substation remained offline throughout the day as repairs were made.
The theft was not the first time in 2012 that thieves targeted Avista substations in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area according to Avista. Copper is traditionally used by utilities to ground the electrical equipment in substations that help deliver customers’ power. Avista noted that thieves tend to snip the copper ground wires that help the electrical system maintain an even electrical voltage and complete the electrical circuit.