FortisBC, BC Hydro and British Columbia Crime Stoppers team up to fight energy theft throughout the province
VANCOUVER, April 30, 2014 /CNW/ - FortisBC puts thieves on notice today, announcing a new collaboration with British Columbia Crime Stoppers designed to curb energy theft across the province. Crime Stoppers is now sharing anonymous information related to energy theft directly with the province's largest utilities - FortisBC and BC Hydro - in addition to law enforcement. This practice has been in place with BC Hydro since 2007.
"This partnership will be an effective tool to detect the theft of energy in every corner of the province in a timely way. Theft not only costs British Columbians, but tampering with electrical and gas equipment is also dangerous for the public, first responders and utility employees. I encourage the public to call Crime Stoppers to report any illegal activity," said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines.
"For the average citizen, energy theft or power diversion is almost impossible to detect. What is usually reported to Crime Stoppers is the probable indicators of an illegal marijuana grow operation or a drug lab. These illegal operations often involve theft of energy bypasses that are a major danger to the public and utility employees," said Rick Ekkel, president of BC Crime Stoppers.
"Crime Stoppers provides FortisBC and BC Hydro just that portion of anonymous tip information that will help inspectors pinpoint the location where there may be energy theft. This new agreement ensures that utilities across the province receive information about suspected theft sites so they can initiate their own investigations sooner."
BC Hydro reports that while electricity theft was historically concentrated in the Lower Mainland, it has expanded across the province. In the southern Interior region - where FortisBC delivers electricity service - 65 per cent of electricity theft occurs in Kelowna. FortisBC notes that the highest incidence of natural gas theft occurs in Surrey and Maple Ridge.
"Energy theft is a significant problem in B.C. It increases customer costs and is a major safety concern for the general public and our employees," said Tom Loski, vice-president, customer service at FortisBC. "This collaboration will give the public more tools and allow us greater access to more timely information so we can better identify and investigate possible instances of energy theft."
"Before BC Hydro started installing smart meters, electricity theft resulted in losses of about $100 million a year and that cost was borne by all of our customers. For this reason, BC Hydro aggressively pursues theft investigations through a team of dedicated field investigators and through the new tools available to us with our smart grid. BC Hydro has been successfully working with Crime Stoppers since 2007 and we are excited that there is now a consistent province-wide approach. The tips we receive will continue to assist us with investigations," said Don Stuckert, vice-president of technology, BC Hydro.
If energy theft is suspected, call 1-800-222-TIPS to leave an anonymous tip. Tipsters do not have to identify themselves or testify in court.
FortisBC quick facts:
- FortisBC provides electricity to approximately 163,000 customers in the Southern Interior and natural gas to approximately 956,000 customers across British Columbia.
- In FortisBC's electricity service territory, there are an estimated 200 instances of electricity theft, with about 65 per cent of these occurring in the Kelowna area. This costs FortisBC electricity customers an estimated $4,000 each day.
- Natural gas theft most often occurs in Surrey and Maple Ridge.
BC Hydro quick facts:
- Historically, 95 per cent of electricity theft has been associated with illegal marijuana grow operations.
- Before BC Hydro started installing smart meters, electricity theft in B.C. was estimated to be at least 850 gigawatt hours per year - amounting to about $100 million in long-run energy cost.
- BC Hydro estimates individual electricity theft ranges from 200 kilowatt hours per day to more than 1,000 kilowatt hours per day.
- Smart meters and a smart grid are enabling the detection and deterrence of electricity theft, which will help BC Hydro reduce loss by 75 per cent.
FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity and propane. FortisBC employs more than 2,200 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates two liquefied natural gas storage facilities and four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,150 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines, and approximately 46,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.
About BC Hydro
BC Hydro has been providing clean, reliable power to British Columbians for more than 50 years while maintaining among the lowest rates in North America. BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation that serves 1.9 million customers and invests in the electrical system and in energy conservation to deliver a safe and reliable supply of electricity for today's customers and for generations to come.
About Crime Stoppers
British Columbia Crime Stoppers is a co-operative of 27 independent local community Crime Stoppers programs working to help solve crime in partnership with citizens, the media and law enforcement agencies. Crime Stoppers is able to receive anonymous information on criminal activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 1-800-222-8477 or going online to leave a tip at www.bccrimestoppers.com. Through this process, information which may not be known to investigators, can be relayed to law enforcement agencies to assist them in solving a crime. Tipsters are guaranteed that Crime Stoppers will not seek their identity or ask that they testify in court. Tipsters are eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2000 upon an arrest and charge based on the tip that they have provided.
For further information:
BC Hydro Media Relations
BC Crime Stoppers
Rick Ekkel, President