December 18, 2013
FORT WAYNE, Indiana – An increase in copper thefts threatens the safety of not just the thieves but our customers, our employees and the public in general. In addition to direct physical danger, copper theft can also damage the quality of electric service, potentially causing outages or power surges.
Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), an operating unit of American Electric Power, wants the public to know of the dangers and signs of copper theft.
Thieves sometimes steal copper by removing wires from poles or electric equipment. Obviously, cutting or removing wires from electrical equipment is extremely dangerous, and some copper thefts in the U.S. have resulted in serious injury and death. Less obvious is the potential danger to others.
Cutting an electric wire can easily leave a live wire dangerously exposed to contact with electric workers and other citizens unaware a line has been cut. Cutting wires can also cause power outages – such as one last month near Muncie, where more than 1,000 customers lost power while I&M workers repaired damages caused by criminals.
In addition, cutting certain wires can weaken protection against power surges, putting customers’ home electronics at risk.
Thieves may find the dangerous risks they take to steal copper are fruitless. Many electric wires contain a scant amount of copper, so thieves may be taking extremely dangerous risks to try to steal something without re-sale value. Many recycling and re-sale centers have security procedures to block purchase of stolen copper. And I&M/AEP is stepping up security efforts.
I&M reminds its customers that employees working around electricity always wear hardhats with the insignia of AEP and reflective traffic vests. They drive trucks with the AEP/Indiana Michigan Power logo. Contractors authorized to work on I&M lines have hardhats and drive trucks with the logo of the authorized conbtractor.
If you see anyone without such identifying labels around electrical equipment, please call 911 or AEP Security at 1-866-747-5845. Please call one of those numbers if you see any of these other signs of copper theft:
• Power lines lying on the ground
• A power line unattached on one end and hanging in the air
• Places where sections of power lines appear to be missing
• Cut fences or locks near electric substations
• Holes dug underneath fences at electric facilities
• Suspicious or unauthorized persons near substations
• Individuals carrying large bundles of wire
I&M appreciates the public’s assistance in helping to curb copper theft.
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Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its 2,500 employees serve more than 582,000 customers. It operates 3,595 MW of coal-fired generation in Indiana, 2,110 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan and 22 MW of hydro generation in both states. The company also provides its customers 250 MW of purchased wind generation.
I&M is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.
Indiana Michigan Power Communications