|By Betty Lin-Fisher, The Akron Beacon Journal|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The new fencing, which replaces traditional chain-link fences and barbed wire, features holes that are too small for bolt cutters and is virtually impossible to climb under or over, spokesman
Would-be thieves will hear a voice over loudspeakers, Colafella said.
"In other words,
The upgrades to the fencing are part of
"Metal theft is an epidemic, and electric utilities are front and center," said Colafella, who declined for security reasons to specify how many substations have been upgraded or their locations. About 10 have been upgraded in the Ohio Edison service area this summer, with another 10 planned in the next year, he said.
According to a
For Ohio Edison, there were 62 break-ins at substations, he said, with
"It seems incomprehensible that our substations are victimized from break-ins," Colafella said, "but it happens."
Substations are like "off-ramps on freeways," he said in explaining their function. At the Star Transmission Substation in
He said metal thieves usually are looking for grounded copper wire or other metal, but because they don't know the complexities of the high-powered electrical transmission substations, they either get injured, burned or in rare cases, die.
Colafella said thieves are not climbing the actual electrical transformers or lattice structures, knowing that would be suicide, but the thefts can cause outages for customers.
"They can leave a community without power for an afternoon because someone stole
Thieves usually will cut a hole in the fencing or pull up the chain-link fencing to crawl under, said
The new material, which was manufactured by
Colafella said the new fencing is buried in the ground, which makes it very difficult for thieves to pull up.
That also helps keep small animals from getting beneath the fences and into the substations, Ryan said.
Thermal-imaging cameras on the upgraded substations are equipped with night-vision capabilities and software that can determine whether an intruder is a human or animal, Ryan said.
The fencing upgrades are initially being done only in
The fencing is not completely foolproof, "but the idea is to slow a potential intruder and gives authorities a longer chance to apprehend someone," Colafella said.
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