Portland, Ore. – Bonneville Power Administration security officials report that a recent break-in at the McNary Substation in Umatilla, Oregon, resulted in the theft of 29 copper ground wires. The substation is McNary Dam’s first point of integration to the region’s power grid.

A BPA employee discovered the theft Monday morning during a routine inspection. Officials say the crime likely occurred over the weekend, between April 13 and 16.

“This is a serious concern on several levels,” said Doug Dailey, BPA physical security specialist. “The number of copper grounds stolen creates a safety issue for our transmission employees and could have caused significant damage to equipment had it not been discovered.”

Officials say there was no interruption of power transmission and that they are evaluating the damage to determine what resources are needed to make necessary repairs.

The BPA Security Office is taking additional steps to further secure property, equipment and materials to minimize and prevent theft at other BPA facilities.

“We learned that this break-in is one of four similar incidents at utility substations in the area over the past couple of months,” said Dailey. “We are coordinating closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Additionally, our people have been checking other BPA substations near McNary to determine if any of those locations have been affected.”

Anyone with information about the theft is encouraged to contact the Umatilla County Sheriff’s office at 541-966-3600.