LANSING, Mich. , July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- With a dramatic 104 percent increase in Consumers Energy copper and aluminum thefts during the first five months of 2008 compared to last year, the utility and Michigan Public Service Commission are warning thieves they risk severe injury or death to themselves, the general public and utility employees when attempting to steal from the utility's equipment or facilities. In addition, those convicted of this crime will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Consumers Energy has recorded 55 copper/aluminum thefts through May of this year, with incidents occurring at the utility's substations up 275 percent through the same timeframe. A total of 30 substation thefts have been tallied, up from eight in 2007.
"Theft of these metals is so much more expensive than their actual value. Public safety is compromised every time such a theft occurs, energy interruptions can result, and unexpected repair costs are incurred," said Frank Johnson , senior vice president of Energy Operations for Consumers Energy.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity around utility equipment or facilities is urged to call 1-800-760-3295 immediately, or contact local law enforcement officials, who can expedite capture or recovery efforts.
The utility has also implemented increased security and surveillance measures at key locations to assist in identifying those responsible for this illegal activity. Substation thefts continue to be prevalent in Genesee , Saginaw , Calhoun , Jackson and Barry Counties which have seen a marked increase in theft incidents since last year.
"In communities large and small, copper cable theft continues to be a major problem that hurts customers - from the resulting power outages, to the dangerous, live wires that may be exposed in neighborhoods," said Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman (MPSC) Orjiakor Isiogu. "The MPSC urges customers to be watchful and report any suspicious activity around utility areas to the police."
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Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to more than six million of the state's nearly 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
SOURCE Consumers Energy