Potshots damage utility equipment

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI - Boone Electric Cooperative would like to remind people that its electric equipment is not meant for target practice.

There have been five instances in about six months of someone shooting different equipment, the utility reports, causing four outages and more than $35,000 in damage.

The latest instance was on May 21, when someone shot an electrical breaker off Route Z in eastern Boone County and 20 customers were without power, Boone Electric spokeswoman Christi Miller said. The other four shootings have been in the Harrisburg area.

Ryan Euliss, manager of engineering and technical services, said it is not uncommon for utility companies to experience problems like this, but it has been rare for Boone Electric. Euliss said he is not aware of many instances in the seven years he has worked for the cooperative.

"In the past decade, itÂ’s been very limited if none," Euliss said.

Miller said there have been instances of people damaging equipment while shooting fireworks. "This seems to be a little string in the last few months," she said. "We donÂ’t really have too much, but when it does something like this, it can be expensive."

The Boone County SheriffÂ’s Department is investigating the vandalism.

The first instance, which created the largest outage, was on Dec. 25, Miller said. Someone shot a regulator off Route E near Harrisburg that left 810 homes without power on Christmas Day.

Two instances occurred within days of each other in March along Benedict Road. On March 12, crews doing repairs found a breaker that had been shot but did not cause an outage, Miller said. Six days later, a transformer on Benedict Road failed after being shot.

The fourth shooting occurred April 8 along Dripping Springs Road when a regulator was vandalized.

In total, the shootings have caused outages to 862 customers, Miller said. Besides causing outages and repairs for the utility, shooting electrical equipment can also be dangerous. The people shooting the equipment are in danger both from hot oil inside transformers and regulators and from the dangers of explosion, according to a news release from the cooperative.

Euliss said the vandalism should not adversely affect Boone ElectricÂ’s budget or lead to rate increases for customers. ItÂ’s hard to tell whether the vandalism is intentional.

"I think the purpose is probably unknown," Euliss said, "and we would hope itÂ’s someone just being foolish and not knowing the extent of damage theyÂ’re causing."


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