How to protect an electrical power site or sub-station

By Wendy Young, Midwest District Manager, Senstar Inc.

It is estimated that 95% of Utility companies are going to experience some form of copper theft this year. The 2008 Copper Theft Report from Electrical Safety Foundation International reported that U.S. utilities spent more than 60 million dollars and experienced over 456,000 outage minutes because of theft. This same study attributed 52 injuries and 35 deaths to copper theft in one year.

In 2011 the New York Times published an article stating that copper theft was again on the rise. “We believe this is a national security issue,” said Bryan Jacobs, executive director of the Coalition Against Copper Theft, an advocacy group in Washington which includes telecommunications firms, power companies and railroads. “The only thing keeping it from being an epidemic is that scrap yards are now scrutinizing the material. But theft is still rampant.”

Grounding wires are easily accessible from inside the perimeter and are an easy target for thieves. Increasingly, intruders are risking their lives to venture inside the facilities in attempts to extract these copper components. Unfortunately, Utility providers can be held liable in the event of death or injury and sued for damages even if the victim is trespassing on the property. Ironically, theft is the least of a Utilities problems if someone gets injured.

NERC (North American Electric Reliability Commission) who coordinates electric industry activities has implemented regulations designed to protect the industry’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. If utilities do not protect substations in adherence to their regulations, they can be subject to fines ranging anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 per day, per violation.

When it comes to protecting electrical sub-stations, Senstar’s perimeter intrusion detection security (PIDS) sensors are the first choice for many utilities. As the world’s largest manufacturer of PIDS sensors, Senstar has 6 different technologies that can provide customized solutions based on budget, level of security and environment.

Senstar’s sensors and systems can easily be integrated with other security and facility systems to provide a range of desirable features, such as:
– Video monitoring
– Access Control
– Central Monitoring through SCADA
– Lighting

For a “typical” small substation, Senstar offers an out-of-the-box solution with FlexPS. FlexPS is Senstar’s latest generation fence-mounted sensor providing assured detection of any attempt to cut, climb, or otherwise break through the fence. Advanced digital processing allows it to adapt to a wide variety of fence types. Flex PS has kits that are easy to install, cost effective and reliable.

A number of recent projects have involved adding a perimeter layer to security systems to catch intruders while they are on site. Using a Senstar Flex PS system can provide benefits such as:
– A real time alert when someone breaches the fence.
– Software that tunes the system based on the physical environment that it is in. No two fences are the same and installers can easily tune the system to tune out nuisance alarms.
– Ease of Install. Flex PS was designed to make factory commissioning unnecessary.

Whether considering a new installation or an upgrade to an existing system, Senstar is an outstanding choice for electrical sub-station protection. Excellent performance, reliability and integration possibilities are only a few of the benefits that can be expected from Senstar’s products.

Contact us today to speak with a Senstar representative about your security needs.

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