The Accra West Region of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) recovered six gigawatt hours (GWh) of stolen power, amounting to GH¢3.2 million last year.
The amount is GH¢700,000 higher than the GH¢2.5 million recoveries it made in 2020 of four GWh.
“What it means is that we identified culprits and estimated the amount of power they might have used, billed and charged them accordingly. These are punitive charges, comprising the cost of energy used and administrative charges,” the Accra West Regional Manager of the ECG, Ebenezer Ghunney, told the Daily Graphic.
The region, with a customer base of about 600,000 covers the Ablekuma, Bortianor, Achimota, Dansoman, Korle Bu, Nsawam, Kaneshie and Amasaman districts of ECG.
Mr Ghunney said in 2021, a team from the region undertook 13,000 targeted visits, out of which the majority; about 90 per cent were found to have engaged in illegalities.
The illegalities included meter bypasses, meter tampering and reconnection without recourse to the ECG.
“If you don’t undertake targeted visits, the probability of you getting persons engaged in illegalities is low,” he explained.
The Accra West Regional Manager indicated that the company adopted a number of procedures to uncover illegality, which was responsible for revenue losses.
One of the procedures, Mr Ghunney said, was the “non-purchase” strategy for prepaid customers “where we go into our system to check persons who have not bought power for some time now.
“Once such persons have been identified, we go and visit to find out why they are not coming to buy credit,” he explained.
In some cases, the regional manager said, the customers genuinely might have travelled, saying in most cases, “those non-purchases turn out to be persons who have engaged in illegalities”.
Mr Ghunney said the company recently secured some new smart meters, seven of which were installed at Achimota.
He said the meters had the technology to notify the company’s control system if someone tampered with them.
“We installed seven and within two weeks we realised that five had been tampered with and we went out and accosted those people,” he said.
Mr Ghunney admitted that the ECG would need more of such meters to check illegality.
He said the Millennium Development Authority was assisting ECG to undertake a Meter Management System Project, where information from all smart meters would be aggregated within one system and then monitored.
“With such a project, the issue of physical visit would not be required – the meters themselves would be talking to the system and we will be getting alerts if there is tampering or anything that the meter deems to be odd,” he said.
Mr Ghunney added that the company was embracing technology fully because relying on physical visits was arduous, looking at the customer base and a rise in sophisticated power theft.
On dealing with illegalities, the ECG regional manager said one of the measures being adopted was customer education to get people to stop engaging in them.
Another measure, Mr Ghunney said, was the prosecution and surcharging of persons caught in power theft.
“The ECG has sent a proposal to the Energy Commission for a revision of the punitive sanctions for illegal connection offences contained in the new draft Legislative Instrument. By this proposal, we are asking for tougher punitive measures,” he said.