Substation Vandalism on the Rise

Lane Electric crews repair a substation after damage and theft in April. Photo by Gary Waggener

In April, a Lane Electric substation serving more than 1,380 meters sustained significant damage due to vandalism and theft. Tampering with substations has unfortunately become a trend this year. It should go without saying that this practice is costly and extremely dangerous.

Lane Electric’s damaged substation houses equipment and power lines that step down 115,000 volts of electricity for distribution to homes. That high voltage is more than enough to cause a fatal shock. There were no severe injures in this case, but immediate repairs required an emergency outage, a backup transformer and ongoing repair work.

At the May board meeting, the Lane Electric Board of Directors—at the request of management—approved nearly $300,000 for increased security measures across the cooperative’s network of substations. This adds to the safeguards already in place to protect unauthorized individuals from entering substations or interfering with electrical equipment.

Substation Safety

Substations convert electricity into different voltages. Due to high voltage in a condensed area, the public is asked to stay away from substations. Illustration by Golden Sikoka, Istock

You may live near or drive by a Lane Electric Cooperative substation each day and not give it much thought.

Substations play an important role in providing safe and reliable electricity to your work or

Fenced-in substations are part of the electrical generation, transmission and distribution system. Transformers are contained inside many of them. As the name implies, their job is to transform voltage from high to low or vice versa, depending on their locations on the distribution path. Besides transformers, substations usually house switches, protective devices and control equipment. In large substations, circuit breakers are used to interrupt any short circuits or overloads.

Substations are fenced away from the public because they contain high voltages in close quarters, creating a potentially dangerous situation for the public. Lane Electric would like to remind you:

Never go near a substation.

Instruct children from a young age about the dangers of electricity. Teach them to never go near a substation or climb its fence to retrieve a ball or pet. Let them know they should always stay away and tell a parent or adult.

If a transformer near your home catches on fire, do not try to put out the fire yourself. Water and electricity do not mix. Call 911 to report the fire.

Call Lane Electric immediately if:

  • You see an issue with or notice something unusual about a substation, transformer or power line. Never try to address the problem yourself.
  • You see someone inside a substation who does not look like they belong there.

Following these safety tips will help keep your community safe and your neighborhood source of reliable power flowing.