ATTENTION POT GROWERS !
By the way, how much money does BC Hydro spend on funding the arts, I mean opera ? Let’s dig into their budget and see where the moneys go.
B.C. Hydro is losing millions of dollars to electricity theft every year, but is finding some success in recovering some of that money by going to court. It’s looking to new smart meters to help reduce thefts in the future.
Illegal marijuana growing operations, which rely on power-hungry lamps and ventilation systems, are responsible for the bulk of the thefts, Hydro believes.
“B.C. Hydro estimates that its legitimate customers bear over $100 million per year in unnecessary energy costs to make up for electricity stolen by marijuana grow ops,” the utility’s chief security officer, Bob Harriman, said in an email. “The problem has been increasing over the last few years as both the amount of electricity being stolen and the value of each kilowatt hour has increased.”
B.C. Hydro is pursuing 19 civil claims through the courts to recover about
$2.1 million in diverted power. In the past three years, Hydro has launched 24 such civil suits, recovering about $5 million from people who have stolen electricity, said Harriman.
Harriman said money has been recovered through either litigation or out-of-court settlements. “There are also a number of cases where we are preparing for litigation but have not yet filed in court,” he said.
In all cases, the thefts were associated with illegal marijuana grow-ops.
Hydro received $99,003.35 in January from one customer whose power was shut off last November. The invoice was paid in full before litigation began.
For those who don’t pay, Hydro can register judgments against their property, garnish bank accounts, seize property or ask the court to hold defendants in contempt for ignoring court orders, Harriman said.
Hydro is banking on technology to turn the tide.
Its smart-metering program — a $1-billion effort to replace all existing meters with ones that will transmit data using low power radio frequencies — will help Hydro quickly identify unexplained electricity loss.
Last year in Langley, RCMP raided a marijuana growing operation they believe had been in business for four years. Officers said they found three stolen Hydro meters, equipment and 16 kilograms of packaged marijuana.
B.C. Hydro estimated it had lost $171,000 from power theft during that time and sued the three people associated with the property. It also turned off the power to a home and a number of outbuildings.
In this fiscal year, Hydro has issued invoices totalling $6.3 million to customers for confirmed thefts, a 142 per cent increase from 2007.
Hydro tries to outsmart power thieves.
“We are currently experiencing a trend toward larger, more sophisticated and dangerous electricity thefts across the province,” Harriman said.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist