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Hydro moves to deter theft of metals with composite copper and steel

Posted August 27, 2014

Hydro One announced today changes to "eliminate the use of valuable, pure copper at its stations across Ontario" as a means of thwarting theft of metals.

"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," according to the Hydro One press release. "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."

Transformer stations across New Tecumseth and south Simcoe County have been vandalized and copper stolen over the past few years, including last summer when over 30 metres of ground copper cable was taken from the Essa site. Hydro One estimates the value of stolen metal is about $2 million annually. Scrap copper was fetching between $2.77 and $2.91 per/lbs depending on its type today, according to the AIM Ontario price list.

"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."

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