The union representing transmission line workers at BC Hydro has confirmed 18 of its members have been suspended for allegedly aiding the operators of marijuana grow-ops. 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said an internal investigation has been launched to look into whether its members were providing additional power to pot growing operations in several areas of the province.

The union said the workers were sent home with pay, beginning Tuesday, but BC Hydro has yet to decide whether they will be suspended or fired.

BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer responded by email to a request for comment, and said the investigation is an internal personnel matter.

"We are conducting a thorough, internal investigation into the conduct of a small number of employees who appear to have been involved in the theft of BC Hydro equipment or other activities that would constitute a violation of our code of conduct," she said.

"BC Hydro and its employees take the safety, reliability and security of our system very seriously. That is why we are conducting such a thorough investigation.

"We need to ensure the conduct of a small number of individuals is not affecting the safety and security of the public or our employees."

Doug McKay, business manager for the union, declined a request for an on-air interview, but said in a written statement that the workers are accused of installing larger transformers to power homes suspected of having marijuana grow-ops.

He said in at least some of the cases, workers were simply responding to calls of a blown transformer.

McKay said it's not the job of a transmission worker to knock on someone's door and determine whether a grow-op is present. He also noted there are many legal grow-ops in the province.

With files from the CBC's Steve Lus and Belle Puri