Intelligence report reveals smart methods used for electricity theft

Several electricity meters are visible on a street in Faisalabad on September 25, 2022. — APP
Several electricity meters are visible on a street in Faisalabad on September 25, 2022. — APP
  • Companies use clip-on meters to gauge amperage, but not theft.
  • Private electricians, engineers embed chips to steal electricity.
  • Staff of supply companies fail to find hidden chips in meters

LAHORE: A report prepared by an intelligence agency has revealed a  significant lack of both modern equipment and training among the Discos’ staff to combat the rampant issue of power theft effectively, which has plagued the country’s power distribution companies (Discos) and resulted in losses amounting to billions of rupees, The News reported on Monday.

Among the deficiencies highlighted, the report also stated that all electricity supply companies, including Lesco, employ clip-on meters that can gauge amperage, but are incapable of detecting the electronic devices responsible for stealing electricity within the meter itself.

The report indicated the emergence of new software designed for electricity theft, many of which can control the modern chips found within meters through remote control, and it appears that individuals involved with these power supply companies, either directly or indirectly, are complicit in the installation of these chips.

Private electricians and electrical engineers, according to the report, are involved in embedding these chips into meters, which are then attached to a remote control. When there is a risk of inspection by the team of an electricity supply company, the thieves can reactivate meters remotely, effectively evading detection and sanctions.

CCTV cameras are now installed in most factories and industries and outside houses, which track the movement of raiding teams in the area, while many industries are also informed about raids by Discos staff themselves.

According to the report, the staff have no training, so they fail to find the hidden chips in the meters. Several meters installed by Discos are taken down and dummy meters of similar serial numbers are installed in homes and business centers which are monitored every two to four days from the meter reading. They are removed and replaced with original meters so that the meter reader cannot know the original reading.

The meter reader notes the reading on the original meter which is installed just two to four days before the reading, which is much lower than the actual electricity consumption and the bill is thousands of units less. The readings of electricity meters installed in large industries are taken by Exens or SEs.

Various Discos have started installing AMR meters (Automator Reading) in industries that are linked with SIM data which officers can check at any time, but still, there are thousands of connections. There are those with whom AMR meters could not be installed due to which millions of units of electricity are still being stolen through old methods.

The report states that a major cause of line losses is excessive length of 11KV lines, faulty conductors, damaged transformers, excessive length of LT lines and poor materials, and overloading of transformers beyond their capacity.

The report states that power supply companies do not have a large system for repairing transformers, so most transformers are repaired by private workshops where there is no provision for oil dehydration or maintenance. A regular electric sheet is used in the cover.

Non-standard copper winding quality of transformers is also a major cause of losses. According to the report, the number of customers in the subdivisions of many Discos has exceeded 50,000 and 60,000, while there is a severe shortage of staff. Earlier, the procedure was that if there were more than 20,000 users, a new subdivision was created.

According to the report, corruption continues by charging lakhs of rupees from consumers for new connections due to which the staff are living a lavish lifestyle. The children of these officers are studying in the most expensive private schools.

According to the report, huge amounts are also charged for changing the three-phase industrial meters, which is not possible without the cooperation of the staff of the companies. The unions are busy defending their corruption instead of raising their voice for the protection of the staff and legitimate facilities for them, due to which employees are afraid of union officials and their legitimate demands are also being neglected.

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