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Changes At Duke Energy Substations Crack Down On Copper Thieves

An electrical power substation in Orange County.
Laura Candler

Duke Energy Progress has completed upgrades to substations in Durham and Greensboro designed to cut down on copper thefts. 

The company has changed the wire it uses, added security cameras and installed more lighting to keep thieves away.  Authorities have reported frequent copper thefts from the Parkwood Tie Station in Durham and the Main Substation in Greensboro.  The metal goes for nearly $3.00 a pound in resale.

Duke Energy Carolinas spokesman Pete Brooks says the company uses several feet of wire for each piece of equipment at substations.

"Our big transformers, a lot of our poles, things like that, we use copper to ground that," Brooks says.

"We've changed that over to what's now copper-clad wire.  Copper-clad is less expensive for us, it does just as good of a job at grounding the equipment, and it has no recyclable value."

Brooks says thieves sometimes risk their lives to steal copper.  The wires are usually live and can deliver fatal electric shocks.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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