Metal thefts spark power cuts across South Ribble

Root of the problem: An electricity substation
Root of the problem: An electricity substation

Power cuts have taken hold in South Ribble after thugs targeted an electricity substation to steal metal.

Residents have been complaining for more than a week of flickering lights and numerous split-second power cuts in their homes, causing their appliances to turn off.

Electricity North West said part of the problem is a result of vandalism at Bee Lane in Penwortham, where 92 properties lost power following a metal theft at a substation.

There were also problems in Farington because of a fault on an underground cable near Stanley Road on February 20, which resulted in 1,418 properties losing power.

The company’s response manager, Jane Fleetwood, said: “Vandalism at a substation on Bee Lane has caused problems for almost 100 residents in the local area.

“After reports of low-voltage and short power cuts, our engineers investigated and found the lock on the substation had been broken and copper earthing had been stolen, leading to these problems for customers.

“We removed supplies for safety reasons while we made repairs, then checked all properties before restoring power.”

She added: “Breaking into a substation and tampering with live electrical equipment is a stupid thing to do, and we will work with residents and the police to track down those responsible.”

The firm said people may have experienced high volts and damage to appliances in their homes as a result of the damage in Penwortham, and added that customers in Leyland may have experienced lower voltage than usual because of the faulty cable in Farington.

It restored supplies by switching them over to a neighbouring circuit, but said the flickering occurred during the change-over.

Resident Andy Farrell, from Moss Lane, said: “It happened about three times in my house, and everything just switched off.

“I was on my computer the other night and it just went dead, and I’ve also lost some voice messages off my phone because of the cuts.

“Some were sentimental, like one from my niece saying Happy Birthday, but some also had important information on.”

People have also been taking to social networking sites to complain about the problems.

One resident from Farington Gate said: “Our power went off for literally a second, but it was enough to turn the Sky TV off and it annoyingly set off loads of alarms outside.”

Another Farington man said his power was out for three hours last week, while someone else complained about his microwave, toaster and oven all being affected by the problems.