The Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) was recently a target of copper theft, a disturbing trend that disrupts power service to customers and puts employees at risk. Last week 200 feet of copper wire was stolen from Substation 2 on West Atlantic Drive that will cost an estimated $35,000 to replace.
Copper theft is an ongoing problem for GBPC and there has been a significant increase in the incidents involving theft of copper recently. “Copper thieves are compromising the company’s system, which affects the safety of our employees,” said Philcher Grant-Farquharson, GBPC Corporate Communications. She noted that while not the sole cause; investigations have shown that several of the outages the company has experienced lately can be attributed to the system not being properly grounded due to copper theft.
In an electrical system, grounding is a reference point to which all other voltages in the system are measured. In the GBPC system, as with most utilities, the “earth” is used as the grounding because the earth can absorb significant amounts of current. Copper is the most reliable conductor of electricity and is used to connect the 69kv transmission system to the earth. Theft of copper compromises the integrity of the system, and can result in increased outages as the system becomes less resistant to high current levels due to lightning or equipment malfunctions.
The company stated that it is investing millions of dollars to improve the reliability of its system and the theft of the copper groundings negates its efforts to improve customer reliability and the overall quality of electric service. The company is urging the public to report any suspicious activity by contacting the police by calling 911 or 352-9774/5. “We are asking customers to be vigilant when driving past our stations,” noted Grant-Farquharson, “reporting suspicious activity could save someone’s life.”