Crooks even steal ground wires off utility poles

Crooks even steal ground wires off utility poles
Phil Roberson
Phil Roberson

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Utility Board linemen are dealing with copper thefts as they fight to keep the power flowing as frequent summer thunderstorms continue.

David Thornton says in 34 years, he has never experienced so many power outages at his home on Hawthorne Drive. "It seems like every time a little thunderstorm would come up, we'd be without power."

Albany Utility Board officials found the ground wire to the utility poles on the street were all cut, probably by copper thieves.

Albany Assistant City Manager Phil Roberson said "When you steal this copper wire, the lightning arrester up on top of the transformer is basically taken out of the equation."

So instead of lightning being sent harmlessly into the ground, it blows fuses in the transformers, and your power is cut. 

Lineman have been busy this week repairing stolen ground wires.  They remind you and the copper thieves those ground wires can be dangerous.

Lineman Jamie Carter said "So when you cut those grounds, they actually become unbalanced and they can potentially carry voltage."

Officials are asking you to keep an eye out for copper thieves. "Anytime the public sees anybody around a power line or a power pole, it looks like they don't need to be there, call us or APD," said Roberson.

The ground wires on Hawthorne are repaired now, and tree trimmers are on their way to cut back limbs from wires.
"He said I think you'll see a really big change in these power outages," Thornton said.

With more storms forecast for the rest of the week, linemen are working hard to prevent as many power outages as possible.

The Albany Utility Board has four contract tree trimming crews and two city crews cutting limbs back from power lines, doing all they can to keep the electricity on with likely more storms forecast.

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