Reward Offered For Information About Damaged Cherokee County Substations

Friday, September 14th 2012, 5:35 pm
By: News On 6

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said a reward of $20,000 is on the table to help find whoever's shooting at electrical substations in Cherokee County.

The Sheriff's office said two substations have been targeted: One in Tahlequah, the other in Hulbert.

The substation at Mud Valley Road and Bryant in Tahlequah is responsible for providing electricity to thousands of people.

It's owned by the Grand River Dam Authority, but used by Lake Region Electric and the KAMO Electric Co-op.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says two weeks ago someone shot the substation with a high-powered weapon and knocked out power to more than 2,000 customers.

9/7/2012 Related Story: Vandals Blamed For $1 Million In Damage To Tahlequah Electric Substation

"I don't know what's going through a person's mind when he's doing something like this, but he had the capability to harm a lot of people," said Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault.

Chennault says the Tahlequah substation and another one in Hulbert have both been shot sometime in the last two weeks.

"I don't think it's a random act. I think it's someone that's doing this maliciously, someone that has information of knowledge of the way these things work," Chennault said.

The Undersheriff said the shooter hit the cooling equipment in very specific locations, causing the liquid cooling material to drain out.

The damage wasn't as severe in Hulbert, because the configuration of the cooling unit had recently been changed.

That was not the case in Tahlequah, where crews had to replace the unit at a cost of $1 million.

"Apparently when one of these units goes down, you can't replace parts off it, you have to replace the whole thing, and that's where the million dollars comes in," Chennault said.

With dozens of substations like this scattered about the countryside - Lake Region alone, for example, has 14 in Cherokee County - investigators are worried that whoever's responsible may be targeting those, as well.

Undersheriff Chennault said it's not uncommon for people to be upset with the electrical companies, but he's never heard of anyone targeting a substation with a gun.

He said whoever did it could face felony charges and a large fine.

"The money involved is astronomical," Chennault said. "Whoever is responsible for this is going to be on the hook for quite a bit of restitution, for sure."

There's a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible. If you can help investigators call the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office or the GRDA.