Utilities Warn: It’s Only a Matter of Time

Spike in electricity system vandalism could lead to serious injury or death

(St. John’s, NL): Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro) are extremely concerned about the increasing number of acts of vandalism to the province’s electricity system. There have been multiple warnings provided by both utilities regarding the serious safety risk of entering high voltage electrical facilities. Despite these warnings, vandals continue to put not only their lives, but the lives of employees and the general public at risk, by illegally entering substations to steal copper wire.

“If this illegal activity continues, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed. We cannot understand why people would put themselves, and the lives of others, at risk in order to steal copper wire connected to high voltage electrical equipment that has little or no value,” said Gary Murray, Vice President, Engineering and Operations, Newfoundland Power.

Grounding wire is a very important part of the electrical equipment’s protection system. Once tampered with or removed, it makes it extremely dangerous for our employees to enter a substation to make repairs. Recent acts of vandalism in Central Newfoundland involved the theft of copper wire and damage to electrical equipment.

“We are appalled that people are not taking the warnings seriously,” said Terry Gardiner, Vice President, Engineering, Hydro. “During these acts of vandalism, large holes are cut in the substation fencing, allowing easy access for members of the public. All it takes is for one person to decide to take a short-cut through the yard, and a disastrous situation could occur.”

The utilities are appealing to the public once again to help put a stop to this activity before it is too late. Newfoundland Power and Hydro will pay $5,000 to any individual for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person, or persons, responsible for these crimes. Anyone with information regarding vandalism to electrical equipment is encouraged to contact their local RCMP or RNC detachment or Crime Stoppers.image

Newfoundland Power is the primary distributer of electricity on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, and purchases 93% of its energy needs from Hydro. With a customer base of approximately 263,000 accounts, Newfoundland Power is committed to safety, dedicated to the highest level of customer service and delivers reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is the primary generator of electricity in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company has an installed generating capacity of 1,792 megawatts. Over 80% of the energy generated is clean, hydroelectric generation. Hydro sells its power to utility, industrial and 38,000 residential and commercial customers in over 200 communities across the province. The company is committed to operational excellence while delivering safe, reliable, least-cost electricity.