$10,000 reward offered for power outage vandals
A $10,000 reward is being offered by The Southeast Alaska Power Agency (‘SEAPA’) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal, or vandals, responsible for causing an hour-long, region-wide power outage on Sunday, August 19, 2012, in both the City and Borough of Wrangell and the City of Petersburg. It is suspected that multiple rifle shots into an insulator core on one of the main power delivery towers on Wrangell’s Back Channel were caused by a vandal or vandals.
Although power was restored quickly utilizing diesel generators, the cost to the communities was high after burning diesel for two days before hydropower was restored on Tuesday, August 21 at approximately 8:15 p.m. The cost to the communities for running the diesel generators alone is estimated at $150,000, which does not include the additional costs of manpower, transportation, and equipment to repair the damages.
The Wrangell Police Department is investigating the incident in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigative Division. Anyone with information should call the Wrangell Police Department at (907) 874-3270 or the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigative Division at (907) 874-2323.
Under federal law, anyone who knowingly and willfully damages a transmission line is subject to possible federal prosecution, and may be imprisoned for up to 5 years, and may have to pay any applicable fines and possible restitution. Shooting insulators, which damaged the transmission line causing an extended lack of hydropower delivery to Wrangell and Petersburg, is a violation of Section 18 U.S.C. § 1366(c). These crimes are in addition to any property crimes that may have been violated under Alaska State law.
The Southeast Alaska Power Agency is a Joint Action Agency formed by the State of Alaska that owns and operates the Tyee and Swan Lake hydroelectric projects, and the Swan-Tyee transmission line. SEAPA provides hydroelectric power to more than 18,000 residents in Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan.