According to the Charleston Daily Mail, Appalachian Power has begun using Copperweld as its ground wire in West Virginia in a bid to deter copper thefts. The compound is only about 40 percent copper, greatly reducing the scrap value of the wire.

To further deter thefts, Copperweld ground rods are now encased in plastic sheaths and secured to telephone poles with staples every 12 inches.

“Copperweld provides the level of protection needed at a quarter of the cost of pure copper, plus in the long run we hope that thieves will learn there’s no value in stealing our grounds,” said Robert Gates, manager of distribution services at Appalachian Power.

The utility last year began offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone stealing copper.

Lawmakers in West Virginia recently passed a bill that would have required businesses that purchase scrap metals to get detailed information about the people selling the materials, including license numbers and photographs.

The bill would also have allowed law enforcement officials to seize records at any time as part of an investigation, a provision cited by Gov. Joe Manchin—due to its potential qualification as warranting unreasonable searches—as one of the reasons he vetoed the bill.        EC