Webster-Dudley power outage blamed on vandalism

Someone pulled copper wire out of the ground at a National Grid substation, triggering a three-hour power outage for 11,000 customers in Webster and Dudley.

The copper wire, used as a ground at the East Webster substation on Route 12, was protected by a tall chain-link fence and barbed wire, said National Grid spokesman David D. Graves. Webster police are investigating, he said.

The power outage began at 8:30 a.m., and work crews restored electricity at 11:45 a.m., Mr. Graves said. About 6,700 customers, or 76 percent of Webster customers, lost power, Mr. Graves said. About 88 percent of Dudley customers, or 4,200, went dark.

Mr. Graves described the vandalism as “foolhardy” and said the perpetrators not only put themselves at risk, but endangered the lives of National Grid repair crews and inconvenienced thousands of customers.

He did not know when the vandalism occurred but said it might have happened overnight, triggering an outage as the electric load built up in the morning.

“This was someone with a purpose, a definite purpose,” he said. “Someone had to be highly motivated to do this. It’s unfathomable to put your life at risk for some small gain.”

The price of copper has been on the rise this year, boosted by shrinking stockpiles, increased demand and the weaker dollar, according to Bloomberg News. In trading today, copper in London rose to $8,492 a metric ton, the highest price since July 2008, according to Bloomberg.

Mr. Graves did not know how the vandals got inside the substation, which is operated remotely by a computer.

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