Electric Meter Vandalism a Safety Issue

CORVALLIS, Ore. — The vandalism of electric meters in downtown Corvallis is posing some safety concerns, and Pacific Power is now offering a reward for the help in prosecuting those involved.

Pacific Power says over 150 electric meters in downtown Corvallis have been damaged. Doris Johnston, the Regional Community Manager with the company, says the vandalism is costing the company and consumers money, but it also poses some danger to the public. She says the back seals on many of the meters have disappeared.

“There is live voltage underneath, and if somebody comes by and accidentally touches that, they could be electrocuted,” she said. “Which we don’t want. Safety is our number one concern.”

Johnston says each electric bill is divided in two parts: energy usage and the demand. The demand is determined by the highest amount of energy used in a thirty-minute window every month. The company has a demand reset device that it uses every month. And she says the vandal(s) is removing this device that is attached to every meter.

“It has been totally removed; it’s broken off,” Johnston said. “So we have no way of resetting your demand for accurate billing every month.”

Johnston says every time the company repairs the demand reset devices, somebody breaks them off again.

“If you for some reason have a really high demand one month, you’re going to get stuck with that because the company can’t replace it,” she said. “We have been through and replaced the meters in downtown Corvallis once, and now we’re in the process of re-doing that again. But every time we replace them, they’re being vandalized, so it’s just a vicious circle.”

Johnston says not only is someone removing the demand reset devices, but somebody is also tampering with the probes to read the meters and the seals securing the meters to the box.

“It takes about 20-30 minutes to take off the pieces on one meter,” she said. “It’s amazing to us that they have the time, just to sit there and work with every individual meter.”

Pacific Power is asking the community to step forward with any information about who is causing the damages.

“I take it very personal,” Johnston said. “Because this is part of the property for the company that I work for. And it’s not only ours, but it’s the customers’. And it’s like, why would someone want to do that? And it’s not like they’re going to receive any benefit from it.”

Pacific Power is offering a $500 reward to anyone who helps the company with the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the vandal(s). Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Bryan Stahl with the Corvallis Police Department at (541) 766-6924. The case number is 2013C03151.

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