Rising Copper Prices Cause Increased Thefts to Electric Coop
January 28th, 2011
Sanford, N.C.- Electric cooperatives are on the lookout for copper thieves. Commodity prices for copper are reaching levels well above $3 per pound, more than double what they were two years ago. These increased prices coupled with a struggling economy have led to a surge in recent copper thefts across the nation.
Copper thieves often target electric utilities, including electric cooperatives like Central EMC, because copper is widely used within the electric distribution system. As a result, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have encountered a range of burglaries from copper being stolen from trucks to copper thefts at electrical substations – a deadly scenario. In this situation, thieves cut through substation fencing and locks, exposing themselves to high-voltage electricity to steal copper from inside substations.
The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that copper wire thefts cost this nation almost $1 billion per year. North Carolina recently passed legislation to make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen metals, including copper, but the trend is still growing.
Central EMC cares about the safety of our members. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourselves and others:
If you see any unusual activity in or around substations, towers, storage sites and other electric utility property, call 911 or report it to your local electric cooperative immediately.
- Heed warning signs posted near electrical equipment.
- Do not climb substation fences, utility poles or towers.
- Stay away from substations and transformers. Such activities are hazardous and can result in severe burns and in some unfortunate cases, death.
Central EMC provides electricity to over 20,000 members in Lee, Chatham, Harnett and Moore counties, and is always looking out for you – our members. Please contact us if you have any electric safety concerns. Do not take chances when it comes to electrical safety.