Did you know that in 2017, the National Electricity Regulation Commission submitted a bill called the “Bill for an Act to prohibit and prevent electricity theft, power infrastructure vandalisation and power company protection”? With this as a law, anyone convicted for electricity theft would either pay a fine of N500,000 or face a seven-year jail term.
To avoid this from happening to you, I’ve written this post to educate you on what electricity fraud is, the available types and what happens when you steal electricity. Let’s dive in.
What is Electricity Theft?
Electricity theft is any form of willful illegal electricity connection, meter tampering, or bypass. It’s an attempt to avoid paying for electricity use. Anyone who steals electricity and/or uses stolen electricity can be convicted for electricity theft.
It has been estimated according to the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) that Nigeria loses 30-35% of energy due to electricity theft. This is what happens when you steal electricity.
So what’s the punishment for electricity theft?
When you’re caught stealing electricity, a debt will be migrated to your meter as the penalty for a bypass or alternatively, your electricity lines will be disconnected of which you will be required to pay a reconnection fee.
Types of Electricity Theft
Preventing electricity theft can only be possible when you know what types of electricity frauds exist. Having established this, here are the different electricity theft methods you should completely avoid;
1. Illegal connections
An illegal connection is when you connect your work or home electrical circuit to the national grid via an unauthorized channel. Usually, this connection can be made underground, above the ground, or through underwater lines. It is also popularly referred to as tapping electricity.
But here’s the thing, somebody else pays for the cost of that illegal connection. In extreme cases, it accumulates to a huge pile of debt. Asides from the penalty that comes with making an illegal connection, there’s also a huge risk of getting electrocuted.
2. Meter Bypass and tampering
A meter bypass is an act of configuring or interfering with an electricity meter with the intent to reduce the reflected amount of electricity consumed.
This type of electricity theft requires directly manipulating the meter. In most cases, it makes the meter go into tamper mode where electricity supply is completely cut-off. When caught, there’s a heavy debt migration as the penalty for interference.
How to Report Electricity Theft in Nigeria
Once you notice any form of meter bypass, illegal connection, meter tampering or vandalization, kindly file a report. To report electricity theft, kindly reach out to your distribution company and fill an anonymous form. You can contact your distribution company here.
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