Hoping to jolt a response from Alberta utility providers, a Calgary alderman is taking her concerns over power theft by marijuana growers up the political ladder.
And it appears provincial officials are willing to listen.
Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart told Metro last year that the STOP Marijuana Grow Operations Coalition, which she chairs, was issuing demands to utility providers for new measures to track electrical use hotspots; however, she says to date the industry has been less than willing to listen.
“I don’t see them taking the initiative to change things,” Colley-Urquhart, pointing to experimentation with tracking technology in both Ontario and B.C. as signs of progress elsewhere. “I have been playing this cat-and-mouse games, really, for about eight years.”
While Alberta Justice officials declined requests for an interview on the matter, a statement issued pledges full review into power theft and policies for tracking by utility providers.
“Grow ops create a range of health and safety hazards, from chemical contamination to unsafe electrical wiring to the growth of toxic moulds,” the statement reads. “It is important that we address grow ops from all possible angles.”
But the city’s largest utility provider, Enmax, says it has saved $4.4 million in reduced power theft costs since 2009 and is closely watching an Ontario pilot project that is utilizing Calgary’s own dTechs tracking technology.
“There is obviously a cost involved, this is not like dealing with someone who is stealing gummy bears from 7-Eleven,” said spokesperson Doris Kaufmann. “Certainly, there can be a risk to our employees.”