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Minnesota Legislature

Damage, theft of energy transmission equipment crime may expand

Theft of copper and other equipment has become more problematic for energy and telecommunication providers.

This is especially true at substations, some of which are situated in remote areas.

Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck) and Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) sponsor HF3082/SF2649* that would expand the crime of damaging or stealing energy transmission or telecommunications equipment to include: “any component used in the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity, including equipment used for grounding, system protection, or personal protection.” The maximum penalty of a five-year felony would remain.

Current statute is limited to the equipment that receives, transports or transmits the service and related-equipment connected to these main conduits.

Passed 114-18 by the House Thursday, the bill goes to the governor. It was passed 57-0 by the Senate one week earlier.

Bill supporters noted during the committee process that workers have fear of severe injury or death when they enter a facility where a fence has been cut and material has been removed and that damaged equipment can delay transmission service distribution.

Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Mpls) expressed concern that an over-zealous prosecutor could charge a juvenile with a felony if they, for example, break a solar panel on a house.

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