ELECTRICITY THEFT CONTINUES TO BE RAMPANT WITH ANNUAL BILL OF US$140-M

The Government Minister responsible for energy is again stating that electricity theft is widespread and people who pay their bills are paying also for the stolen power.

Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Fayval Williams told Parliament Tuesday, May 14 that nearly a fifth of all the electricity generated is stolen. The bill for the stolen electricity is a whopping US$140 million a year (or about J$19 billion).

Mrs. Williams said: “Mr. Speaker, electricity theft costs all of us US$140 million each year. This represents 17% of electricity generated and is a significant contributor to high electricity costs. All of us who pay for electricity, pay approximately 8.5% more on our bills, to cover the amount that is stolen.”

She said many people did not appreciate the dangers that come with stealing.The Minister was giving her maiden presentation in the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

Three years ago in the face of the continuing widespread theft of electricity a Parliamentary sub-committee was formed to consider the issue. No report has ever been made.

The JPS has rolled out a variety of anti-theft technology but the stealing continues across the country. In some communities, less than 10 percent of the households that have electricity pay for it.

The Minister said the JPS reported that last year, it removed approximately 170,000 throw-ups. She said that despite the many community meetings, pre-paid meters and other steps taken, theft of electricity continues unabated.

Mrs. Williams said the theft was not taking place only in “certain communities,” meaning depressed ones. She said many billed customers are reported to be getting around the meters.

The Energy Minister said this situation had been going on for some time but was not acceptable. “This Minister of Energy is standing here today to say, ‘this is not the kind of behavior we want in this society that we wake up every day creating.’ If you are rich and you take electricity without paying for it, it is stealing. If you are poor and you take electricity without paying for it, it is stealing just the same. STOP!”

Mrs. Williams said the Government supports a suggestion by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) that this year it will be piloting a programme to see how the high rate of electricity theft can be curbed. She said the JPS has also been discussing with the Ministry ways to reduce theft.[Courtesy:JAMAICA TODAY ] 10 Views

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