7/6/2006
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT THEFT INCREASING;
THIEVES PUTTING SAFETY AND RELIABILITY AT RISK

CHARLESTON, W.Va., July 6, 2006 – With the rising price of scrap metal, Appalachian Power officials say they are seeing an increase in the theft of electrical equipment, especially aluminum and copper conductor.

The metal thieves are taking a huge risk for the sake of just a few dollars, said Gary McGraw, region security coordinator for Appalachian Power. “Stealing wire from electrical lines or substations to sell for scrap metal is not only illegal – it can kill you.

“This year three people in this area were killed while attempting to steal wire. One was in Boone County, W.Va., another in Martinsville, Va., and the third in Pike County, Ky. It’s an incredibly risky thing to do.”
In addition to risking their own lives, those stealing wire and other electrical equipment often leave behind conditions that can endanger others, including both the public and power company employees, according to Appalachian Safety Manager Mike Granata.

“Connections can be loosened or energized equipment can be exposed, jeopardizing the safety of our employees and the public,” Granata said.

Power outages can result from equipment theft as well. For example, just last week, a thousand customers in Logan County, W.Va., were out of service for five hours while crews repaired damage to a substation. Earlier this year in Scott County, Va., thieves stole ground wire from an isolated substation, causing a lengthy weekend outage for another thousand customers.
 
This month Appalachian Power is launching a special effort to curb the thefts. The multi-pronged approach includes:
·                     Educating the public through the media and a radio advertising campaign;
·                     Heightening its relationship with scrap dealers to help them learn to identify metal that may have been stolen from electrical facilities;
·                     Building a closer relationship with law enforcement to enhance the ability to identify and prosecute metal thieves;
·                     Increasing security around company substations and other facilities; and
·                     Educating employees on identifying when they may be at risk because of equipment that has been tampered with.
“We encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity near a utility pole, substation or other power company facility to report it to us or to local law enforcement,” McGraw said. “You can help prevent a power outage or even save a person’s life.”

Beyond safety issues, stealing electrical equipment doesn’t make economic sense. Scrap copper now sells for about $3.00 a pound. In the Scott County case, the thieves stole $100 worth of copper. They were caught and are being prosecuted for more than $10,000, including the cost of the cable, repairs, overtime for workers, etc. Plus, Appalachian Power’s cable is often copper clad, not solid copper.

Appalachian Power has a toll-free telephone number dedicated to security issues. Anyone reporting suspected theft or tampering with electrical equipment should call toll-free      1-866-747-5845.

Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 36,000 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. 
                                        ###



Jeri Matheney
Corporate Communications Manager
(304) 348-4130
Cell: (304) 543-1377
jhmatheney@AEP.com

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