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Anti-graffiti wraps on BC Hydro equipment help neighbourhoods beautify, and stay that way

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Customers can now apply to wrap pad-mounted transformers

They're those beige and green utility boxes you see on sidewalks, in strata courtyards, and often on the property of businesses. Pad-mounted transformers (60,000 of them across the province) take the higher voltage electricity from BC Hydro's distribution system and transform it to lower voltages appropriate for residential and commercial use.

Unfortunately, they also provide a tempting blank canvas for graffiti.

That's why BC Hydro has launched a program allowing well established businesses, strata properties, municipal governments and community organizations to beautify pad-mounted transformers with decorative wraps. Several pilot installations conducted a few years ago tested the viability of wraps on these transformers. BC Hydro is now accepting applications from eligible applicants to wrap pad-mounted transformers.

"There are certain groups, such as building strata, businesses, and government agencies that are really interested in wrapping our transformers to improve their visual characteristics in the area," says Ed Mah, who oversees the program. "We don't permit advertising, but the right pattern, photo or artistic work can benefit a business or just the aesthetics of the area."

Policy and installation guidelines for decorative wrapping are available on bchydro.com.

In a nutshell, the requesting party must apply to BC Hydro for permission to wrap each pad-mounted transformer and sign a 10-year agreement for each installation. As part of the agreement, the requesting party pays for, maintains and owns the wrap (costing roughly $800 to $2,000 each), which must be installed by an established wrapping company of the party's choice that has taken (or is willing to take) BC Hydro's safety training.

Mah says there are no guarantees, but the wraps do help deter graffiti and beautify the properties where the transformers are installed. "It depends on the patterns that are picked," he says. "Typically, contrasting patterns such as photos of bushes or shrubs tend to defer graffiti most effectively."

Learn more about the decorative wrap installation program.