COPPER THEFT A ccording to Don Horne of Electricity Today, copper theft increased 1,150 percent from 2005 to 2006. Unfortunately, things only got worse from there. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy called copper theft a $1 billion problem that was growing larger. From January 2006 to March 2007, electric utility companies in 42 states reported 270 copper thefts (many more remained unreported), causing millions in maintenance repairs within the United States. Duke Energy Battles Copper Theft In 2006, Jim Mehring, Duke Energy Kentucky’s general manager of substation engineering, said, “We are seeing a marked increase in the number of break-ins at our substations. In addition to financial impacts, this has created safety and reliability concerns for Duke Energy.” In Greenville, S.C., in July 2006 a man trying to steal copper from a Duke substation was electrocuted with tools and wire still lying near the body.52 UA April 2008 www.utility-automation.com
COPPER THEFTBackground at the largest security show in the U.S. integrated night vision camera takes a Duke Energy takes copper theft Developed by RSI Video Technologies, 10-second video and sends it over the cellseriously and has become a leader in Videofied is a wireless video system that network to our monitoring station wherepreventing copper bandits from impacting reports video alarms over the cell network, we immediately see what is happening andthe company’s operations. Prevention requires no AC power and runs for dispatch police.”begins on Duke’s website on a page titled months on a set of batteries. Because the system is completely“Copper Theft: It’s Dangerous and It’s Kemp explains how it works: “When wireless, it could be installed anywhereIllegal,” which informs people of the an intruder trips the motion sensor, the in minutes instead of days. In its firstproblem and asks for help in reporting thecrime. Duke has invested heavily to findsolutions to deter copper theft, includingprojects in closed-circuit television(CCTV), access control and guardservices. While various approaches helped,they were too cumbersome and expensiveto deploy beyond a few critical locations.In addition, traditional surveillance usingCCTV and DVRs were not as effective asexpected. Clayton Kemp of USA SecurityGroup explains: “CCTV enabled Duketo watch re-runs of the crimes committedthe previous day. We watched hours ofvideos of intruders and never had whatwe needed to identify and prosecuteperpetrators.” Installing CCTV cameras meansrunning wire—lots of it—for mostinstallations, pushing installation costshigher than the equipment itself. In aneffort to reduce installation costs andsimplify deployment, Duke consideredwireless solutions, but they wouldn’t workin the noisy substation environment.Duke Finds a Solution Duke had been working with ClaytonKemp and USA Security Group basedin Charlotte, N.C., to help design anaffordable solution. USA Security hasprotected commercial and residentialconstruction sites for more than sevenyears. Protecting construction sites involvessecuring remote locations, outdoorinfrastructure and porous perimeterswhile still allowing multiple contractorsthe access they need—situations similarto Duke’s substation environment. Insummer 2007, as USA Security consideredhow to resolve Duke’s substation securityneeds, Kemp discovered Videofied, awireless video security system that had justwon “Best of Show” for new productswww.utility-automation.com Go to http://uae.hotims.com for more information.
COPPER THEFT install, USA Security was documenting From January 2006 to March 2007, electric utility companies cameras transmitting over 1,000 feet to in 42 states reported 270 copper thefts, causing millions in the communicator panel which sent the maintenance repairs within the United States. video alarm over the cell network back to the station. According to Kemp, the solution worked because of superior wireless technology: 915 MHz and true spread spectrum, which is used in the U.S. military to deter jamming and give maximum range in hostile environments. Duke ran into a problem, however, because its security problems were primarily outdoors and the Videofied camera was not weatherproof. Kemp describes how his company customized the cameras in an attempt to solve that problem: “We added silicone seals and a plastic hood and began experimenting to better understand the solution. The Local law enforcement is just as pleased with our ‘outdoor’ cameras in a few utility was convinced wireless was the way with the system. Over the past several years substations close to Charlotte.” to go, and a 43-camera system was fully they have been dispatched to numerous operational at a major substation less than false alarms by blind security systems. six hours after the installers arrived. USA Visual verification at the substations Security and Duke Energy then became changed that because the dispatcher one of the first test sites for the new describes a crime-in-progress and what outdoor cameras to prove whether they the police should be looking for. This would perform as promised. kind of call has a higher priority than a “We put the first outdoor cameras in the standard alarm. Since installing the camera field in early December and knew that we system, Duke has four apprehensions finally had it—the solution that we all were and the system has proved to have a looking for,” Kemp said. USA Security significant deterrent effect. The word has Group worked to upgrade the existing hit the street that Duke substations with systems with the outdoor cameras, and the Videofied solution are no longer an A wireless video camera system keeps constant watch over the results have been better than they had easy target. The results are so significant a substation. even hoped: no false trips and operation that Kemp is now busy designing several He soon found that the solution was down to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. standard kits for various sized substations more complicated than adding seals. and facilities. Outdoor sensors need special filtering Results and electronics for immunity against sun Has it worked? The short answer is, System Enhancements and temperature extremes. The rising “Yes.” Instead of crime reruns on DVRs, Utility companies each have developed and setting sun caused false trips that sent Duke now has apprehensions. processes and systems that are unique to unnecessary videos to the monitoring Clayton Kemp elaborates: “Within a few them. USA Security is now busy creating station. seconds from the time the intruder trips options to adapt the Videofied solution “We simply had too many videos and the camera, our operators are dispatching so that existing processes don’t need to false trips for this to be scalable with a police and describing what they are change. This primarily is focused on two large deployment,” Kemp said. seeing—virtual eyewitnesses. This is no issues: arming/disarming the system and USA Security discussed its field longer ‘just an alarm’ but a crime-in- monitoring. experience with RSI and learned that a progress, and police are very motivated to Because utility facilities are so varied, new outdoor camera designed for harsh apprehend criminals. We have videos of often there is no universal access control environments was being developed. Except actual apprehensions on our website where system. A proximity card may be used to for the harsh environment issues they you can see the thief carrying armloads of enter distribution centers, while a lock identified, Duke was encouraged by the copper and then the police after they have and chain may be all that is required technology and installed several systems apprehended him” to access a remote substation. The54 UA April 2008 www.utility-automation.com
COPPER THEFTtraditional keypad arming station is often done in-house. Kemp has responded bytoo cumbersome to implement. Simply creating a “virtual monitoring station”distributing and managing the disarm in which the utility is given the abilitycodes can be difficult. Kemp and Duke to access USA’s monitoring station viaEnergy developed a custom disarming virtual private network (VPN) and bestation that provides security but doesn’t a remote operator at its own facility. Aimpact existing processes. USA Security third solution is to actually duplicate theplaces a small call box near the entrance of USA Security monitoring station withina substation or distribution center. Inside the utility. These options allow a utilitythe box is a camera and instructions. The to begin small and choose the way theyemployee or contractor simply opens wish to grow. A disarming system allows entry for utility personnel andthe box, triggering the camera to take approved contractors, but keeps copper thieves out.a video of his face, and then dials the Conclusionphone number listed inside the call box. disarms the system using standard MiFare Duke Energy has found a securityThis rings at the dispatch center where cards or keychain fobs. solution that it can quickly deploythe contractor gives his name, employee Kemp has also developed several to address copper theft and the risknumber and the reason for his visit. All ways to monitor the camera system. it brings to Duke’s infrastructure,this is logged at the monitoring station. Duke Energy has outsourced the entire especially its substations. The systemBased on the access rules for that site, process to USA Security and their delivers apprehensions, is affordable, is athe dispatcher can disarm the system and 24x7 monitoring center. The staff is proven deterrent and installs anywhereallow the contractor or employee to enter. trained to monitor utility environments in a few hours. For more informationAnother option is installing the outdoor and dispatch according to rules and and to view videos of actual incidents,wireless proximity card reader on the chain processes set up by the client. Other see www.usasecuritygroup.com andlink fence near the gate that arms and utilities prefer to have the monitoring www.coppertheft.info. ❮❮ IEEE PES TRANSMISSION & DISTRIBUTION CONFERENCE & EXPOSITION McCormick Place CHICAGO 21 - 24 April 2008 Section 2 Booth #1029 Go to http://uae.hotims.com for more information. intelligent power www.kelman.co.uk