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O&R Focuses An Invisible Light on a Hidden Utility Cost

orangeandrocklandutilityOrange & Rockland is addressing inventory that disappears with an invisible weapon.

Nationally, copper wire theft may cost industry as much as $1 billion a year. O&R and its parent company, Con Edison, say that when thieves steal the copper wires used to ground and protect the power grid from power surges and lightning strikes, it costs both the company and the consumer. But an invisible paint — which can only be seen under UV light — is helping to combat these thefts.

DataDot Technology has developed a spray system that paints identifying marks on the O & R’s cooper wire. Each set of dots has a unique identifier, logo or numbered ID that is invisible to the naked eye, but under UV light clearly marks the equipment as the property of O&R.

Wire theft can disrupt the effective operation of the electrical system. Repair and wire replacement costs drive up the monthly bills of O&R electric customers.

It’s a national problem that many utilities and other industries are trying to address. In May, a judge sentenced a Seattle area man who stole 4.3 miles of copper wire from a light rail system to 16 years in prison. In March, three Long Island Railroad employees were arrested for copper thefts. O&R says there were 13 reported copper wire thefts last year in its 300,000 customer service area for which arrests have either been made or are pending.

The law requires metal recyclers in New York State get a photo id from anyone who sells them scrap or other materials worth $50 or more. Under the law, metal recyclers are required to keep a copy of that photo ID in a file for inspection by law enforcement officials for two years. Failure to comply with this law can result in a court appearance and a $200 fine.

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