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  1. Alfa
    HYDRO TO ROOT OUT GROW OPS

    Suspicious Homes To Lose Power

    By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

    HYDRO OFFICIALS will soon be able to cut off power to homes without
    warning if they suspect an illegal marijuana grow operation, Community
    Safety Minister Monte Kwinter said. Kwinter said he will introduce
    legislation this fall to give hydro companies the legal authority to
    act swiftly against suspected pot labs.

    "Someone will be able to cut off your power without telling you about
    it, without notice, because we think you're doing something illegal,"
    he said.

    People must prove they're not operating a pot grow house to get their
    power back, he said.

    Kwinter said the government also intends to get building inspectors,
    realtors, banks and insurance companies all working with police to
    eradicate the "scourge" of illegal grow ops, which steal an estimated
    $80 million a year in electricity and pose serious safety hazards.

    Kwinter said police need proof to obtain a warrant to enter a home.
    "And it's really difficult to get a warrant when you can't tell them
    what's in there," he said.

    Building inspectors, who are already entitled to enter structures to
    investigate potential safety risks, will be called in to examine
    suspicious homes and report any criminality they find.

    The minister said banks will begin specifying in mortgage documents
    that the whole amount becomes due if a grow operation is discovered.
    Insurance companies will also void coverage for grow ops.

    "These are things that these various sectors will put in because they
    suddenly realize that they're the ones that are left holding the bag,"
    Kwinter said.

    Mark Burton, a spokesman for Toronto Hydro, said grow ops often tap
    directly into main lines to avoid high meter readings. If the house
    still has power after being cut off, hydro officials would know that
    there's been an "energy diversion," he said.

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