Friday, April 4, 2014

Increased Demand For Electrical Substation Security

It is no secret that utilities are more in need of good perimeter security systems than ever before. From Hong Kong to London and beyond Advanced Perimeter Systems has provided effective security for a variety of utilities.

The main driving force behind the need for increased perimeter security of utilities is the problem of metal theft, particularly copper. We have written before about the global thirst for scrap metal and how this is adversely affecting other property. From church roofs to salvage yards and now utilities, the problem shows no signs of abating.

Today we are going to look at how electrical substations are being targeted for metal theft. You have only to look at news reports to see what a big problem this is becoming.

Here are two examples:

Substation Theft - Story 1

The BBC covered a story last November about how theft of metal cable from a substation caused 4 home fires in Greenock, Scotland putting ordinary peoples lives at risk and left 280 homes without power on one of the coldest days of the winter. When the thieves cut the cables it resulted in a power surge causing the ensuing problems. What's more, the 3 metres of copper wire stolen amounted to just £40 in value!

Cut cables at the substation

Substation Theft - Story 2

In 2012 there was an alarming story of 30 substations being targeted in Kent, England over a period of just five weeks. The concern of the substation operators was expressed in an interview which you can read the full transcript of here. Essentially the thieves probably did not realise how they were putting their own lives in danger by tampering with electrical substation equipment. High voltage current can jump across gaps and only trained, qualified engineers should ever enter such areas.

This latter point about danger to human life is something that we feel needs to be conveyed more strongly in the media. No amount of metal is worth someone risking their life for and this was brought home to us a few years ago when we were contacted by the operators of a substation in Edinburgh. There had been an attempt to steal copper earth rods resulting in the tragedy of the death of the intruder through electrocution. We were asked to provide a security solution that would protect both the electrical components and human life. The result was the installation of our Flexiguard system

When the media next focuses on the price of metal because it’s in short supply, we would hope they might also use the opportunity to focus on the price in terms of human life.

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