A study conducted by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has found that electricity distributors lose more than GH¢1.3 billion annually due to power theft in the country.
Illegal connections in the country’s electricity distribution system are denying the distributors to raise the needed revenue which constitutes an average extra cost of 15Gp per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy that consumers pay for electricity.
According to the study, politicians and agents of the power distributors took advantage of the bad system to satisfy their interests.
ACEP at a press briefing addressed by the Policy Lead – Petroleum and Conventional Energy, Kodzo Yaotse, accused some agents of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) including subcontractors of facilitating and conniving with consumers to engage in illegal connections and meter tempering for their selfish interest.
According to him, these agents and subcontractors are usually entrusted with the mandate to install meters who end up abusing their mandate.
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“Agents of the power distributors, including subcontractors and service providers who distribute meters among others, actively facilitate and advise consumers on illegal connections and meter tampering for their private gains,” he said.
The study identified 3,667 illegally connected Self-Help Electrification Program (SHEP) meters from selected urban and suburban residential areas of which 70% of the meters had non-functioning LCD displays hence consumption data could not be accessed.
The remaining ones, ACEP noted, showed very high consumption with some as high as 28,320kWh.
Yaotse stated that the study established a disturbing phenomenon he referred to as, “abortion electricity meters.”
“Abortion meters are meters that are deliberately damaged through the application of concentrated heat on the digital displays or meters that have their digital components which allows communication with the power distributors removed, all in a bid to erase and prevent electricity consumed from being recorded, especially when it is very high,” he said.
He explained that power distribution agents, including subcontractors and service providers, actively connived and advised illegal electricity consumers on illegal connections and metre tampering for their private gain.
“It was also revealed that politicians secured SHEP meters from the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to share and connect households to the grid for electoral gains without the active involvement of power distributors,” he noted.
ACEP in its recommendations suggested that:
ECG should immediately take steps to regularise all SHEP meters and eliminate the damaged ones.
ECG should adopt a whistleblower mechanism to support the detection of illegal connections in the system.
ECG should overhaul their monitoring system to ensure that they are able to account for consumption in the system. Particular attention should be paid to the high voltage feeders to enable them to identify where power theft is high.
Again, power distributors should monitor their staff and subcontractors in charge of installing and reading meters to identify the recalcitrant ones who are engaged in illegal connection to sanctions.
The Ministry of Energy should ensure that the installation of the SHEP meters is made with the active participation of the power distribution companies to ensure they are captured into their system for billing.