With its substations increasingly targeted by copper thieves, PPL is upping security and putting scrap dealers who may receive the stolen wiring on alert.
The utility has suffered about two dozen copper wire thefts throughout its Pennsylvania service area since the start of the year. The utility’s Lancaster and northeast Pennsylvania service areas have been hit especially hard.
Last month, according to media reports, thieves broke into a Wilkes-Barre area substation just after midnight and stole more than 250 feet of copper wire used to ground the substation. Scrap yards pay about $3 a pound for copper wire, according to Internet scrap pricing websites.
It’s a problem being faced by utilities across the country. The nationwide spike in copper thefts dates to about 2008 when prices hit $4 a pound, topping out at $4.50 in 2011, according to the American Public Power Association‘s magazine, Public Power.