The copper theft scourge has been taking a toll on electric cooperatives for several years, but a new law in Illinois gives the state’s co-ops a role in helping fight it.
The law, which took effect New Year’s Day, creates the Recyclable Metal Theft Task Force. One seat on the panel is reserved for a representative of Illinois’ electric co-ops.
“The increase in metal thefts in recent years cannot be ignored,” said Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, who sponsored the bill in the House. “This task force will bring together experts in a variety of fields, with diverse perspectives, in order to fix the problem.”
Officials at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives welcomed the law.
“Metal theft continues to pose major challenges to rural Illinois,” noted Don Wood, senior vice president of government relations for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. “We’re gratified that Rep. Hoffman recognized the problem and specifically added a seat on the task force for our co-ops, and that the Illinois General Assembly passed, and our governor approved, this important legislation.”
State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, the bill’s Senate sponsor, also recognized the impact metal theft has on co-ops and other utilities.
“When people steal the copper out of utility lines, it causes issues resulting in power disruptions and revenue loss. This can lead to major electric outages and expensive repairs that impact ratepayers,” Haine said.
Other seats on the task force include representatives from Illinois’ public utilities, its scrap metal dealers and insurance companies offering homeowners coverage in the state. There will also be five police chiefs, representatives of the state police, and members of the state Senate and House.
Under the law, the task force will work to “establish a collaborative effort to combat recyclable metal theft.” The panel will issue an annual report to the governor and General Assembly.
Source: By Michael W. Kahn,
Electric Co-op Today