CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Power was restored at 1 p.m. to the last of 2,900 customers in Charleston who lost electrical service because thieves stole the copper ground wires at Appalachian Power's Chesterfield Avenue substation.
The outage affected customers in Kanawha City, along MacCorkle Avenue and in the South Hills and Loudon Heights areas.
The loss of the copper wires made the power system in the substation unstable and it had to be shut down to make repairs, said Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye.
The station was shut down at about 4:40 a.m.
The utility had hoped to restore power by 10 a.m. to all customers.
"We were able to switch a lot of customers (on) but discovered more damage caused by the copper theft," company spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said at 10:25 a.m. "The missing grounds caused damage to our equipment elsewhere. We will have to repair that and expect those customers to be back online at about 2 p.m."
Seven hours after the outage began, 1,338 customers were still without service, according to Appalachian Power's online outage map. By 12:20 p.m., the company had restored power to all but 734 customers.
With the temperature below freezing early this morning, it was expected that most residential furnaces would kick on when power was restored. The utility had to bring customers back online in small groups so the system wouldn't become overloaded, Moye said.
Matheney said power was restored before 9 a.m. to some customers, including Charleston Area Medical Center's Memorial Division in Kanawha City.
All of the outage was due to the thefts at the Chesterfield Avenue substation, Matheney said. Appalachian Power urged anyone with information about the thefts to report them online or call its confidential hotline, 1 866-747-5845 or the police. The utility is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction.
Metro 911 noted that the outage had knocked out traffic lights from 31st Street and MacCorkle Avenue to South Ruffner in Kanawha City. Traffic lights also were out at the busy intersection on the south end of the South Side Bridge.
Power was restored to the University of Charleston about 11 a.m. and a normal work and class schedule resumed at noon.
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.