UPDATE: Man gets power cut over non-existent grow-op

BC Hydro cut power to the home of Richmond’s Ghiqing Thomas Xue on Wednesday. Suspicions of a marijuana grow-op were unfounded, but he’s no closer to having his power restored.  - Martin van den Hemel photo
BC Hydro cut power to the home of Richmond’s Ghiqing Thomas Xue on Wednesday. Suspicions of a marijuana grow-op were unfounded, but he’s no closer to having his power restored.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

A North Richmond resident who was miffed after BC Hydro claimed to have uncovered a marijuana grow-op at his home, had his power restored on Friday.

But he's out of pocket a few hundred dollars, and still hasn't received an apology.

Ghiqing Thomas Xue contacted The Richmond Review Thursday morning, 24 hours after BC Hydro’s contractor, Corix, tried to install a smart meter at the house in which he lives with his wife and family on Howell Court.

Xue learned around noon Wednesday that his power was out and about an hour later, contacted police.

During a three-way call involving an investigating officer and a BC Hydro representative, Xue heard that BC Hydro suspected a marijuana grow-op was inside his home.

Perplexed, and knowing that was untrue, he invited the RCMP to come over, and they found nothing that raised any concerns, he said.

But that hadn’t resolved anything.

Despite no explanations about what needs fixing, Xue was at wit’s end on Thursday afternoon.

He’s been advised to hire an electrician to remedy whatever issue led the installer to believe something was amiss.

“So far, there’s no answers from BC Hydro. I called a couple of times this morning. I want to know what happened and how do I fix the problem, but they refused.”

With no power, there’s no way to keep the house warm at night, no way to cook, and no hot water for showering.

As of Thursday morning, he was no closer to any answers, and didn’t know how large a repair bill he was on the hook for.

But even once any deficiencies are addressed, Xue was told he’d have to wait at least a week before his power is restored.

“I don’t know the reason they treat me like this. I’m a human being. I deserve respect,” Xue said.

Jim Nicholson, director of customer care for BC Hydro, was apologetic about what happened to Xue and promised to contact him directly.

“I am appalled that we have that kind of thing happening,” he said.

Nicholson explained that when the old meter was removed, there were signs of illegal modifications or tampering.

And since repairs were needed, work that requires an electrician, the power needed to be switched off to ensure the work could be done safely.

But Nicholson said the customer service representative who dealt with this file should not have jumped to conclusions that the home had a marijuana grow-op.

Nicholson said BC Hydro will make efforts to expedite the process of restoring power to the home, and he promised to improve the communication process, so a customer can be informed of precisely the type of repair work that needs to be done.

“We certainly can improve that communication.”

On Friday afternoon, Xue indicated he'd had his power restored and expressed his thanks to The Richmond Review.

This is the third similar complaint involving smart meter installations in the past month.

A older home on No. 7 Road had its power off for three weeks after evidence of tampering was found on its old meter. But the tenant was never informed what the problem was, and instead was told BC Hydro suspected it was a grow-op.

And just last week, another family had its power cut, and was told it had to pay for repairs, after the smart meter installation job was botched. They too weren’t immediately told what the problem was, and instead were greeted by an erroneous door hangar that told them the smart meter had successfully been installed, though it hadn’t been.

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