Going forward, when the Company undertakes maintenance work and upgrades at its stations, the new groundings installed will be made of a copper and steel composite. Signage will be posted at stations alerting would be thieves that this alternative to pure copper has no scrap metal value. Annually approximately $2 million worth of copper is stolen from Hydro One.
When copper is stolen from a station, it compromises the electrical system, resulting in outages, costly repairs and most importantly, can cause severe injuries and death not only to those committing the crime but also to employees, law enforcement officers responding to the scene and potentially the public.
For years, Hydro One has worked closely with law enforcement agencies across the province to successfully monitor and prosecute metal theft criminals. The Company along with the Ontario Provincial Police OPP, has now engaged other critical infrastructure and law enforcement organizations in a working group in order to ensure a more consistent approach to protect critical assets, report, investigate and prosecute incidents of metal theft.
"By making changes to the way we operate we can deter metal theft," said Ron Gentle, Chief Security Officer, Hydro One. "We want to ensure Ontarians can continue to safely rely on electricity to power their homes, businesses and communities every day. By partnering with the OPP, other law enforcement and critical infrastructure organizations we have the collective knowledge and power to make a difference."
"We are pleased to support our partners in law enforcement and Hydro One's efforts to improve the security of critical infrastructure and public safety in a consistent manner. We also applaud the initiatives aimed at ensuring its assets are less attractive to the criminal element in the future, thereby enhancing public and officer safety," said Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, Provincial Commander OPP Investigations and Organized Crime.
According to the Canadian Electricity Association research, since 2010, media reports show that many people have suffered serious injuries from copper theft and tragically eight people have lost their lives. While costly to the electricity sector, approximately $40 million each and every year, copper theft is also costly to other sectors and businesses across the country. Additionally these thefts pose a significant threat to the reliability of Canada's electricity system, putting Canadians in vulnerable situations such as loss of access to 9-1-1, medical care, and other critical services.