Intelligence report reveals power distribution companies’ struggles in combating electricity theft

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An intelligence agency’s report has exposed significant deficiencies in the capabilities of power distribution companies (Discos) to effectively combat widespread electricity theft, resulting in substantial financial losses.

It underscored that the Discos’ staff lack both modern equipment and adequate training to tackle the rampant issue of power theft effectively.

The report pointed out that all electricity supply companies, including Lesco, utilize clip-on meters capable of measuring amperage but incapable of detecting electronic devices responsible for internal electricity theft within the meters themselves.

Emerging software designed for electricity theft can manipulate modern meter chips remotely, often with the involvement of individuals associated, directly or indirectly, with these power supply companies.

As per report, “Private electricians and electrical engineers are involved in embedding chips into meters, which can then be controlled remotely, allowing thieves to reactivate meters when there is a risk of inspection, thus evading detection and penalties.”

It also added that surveillance cameras in factories, industries, and residential areas monitor the movements of inspection teams, with some industries receiving advance notice of raids from Disco staff themselves.

It mentioned that the untrained staff struggle to locate hidden chips in the meters, and some meters are replaced with dummy meters of identical serial numbers, making it difficult to detect electricity theft and the electricity readings from meters installed in large industries are often taken by Exens or SEs.

While some Discos have begun installing AMR meters linked with SIM data in industries, many connections still employ old theft methods.

The report identifies excessive line length, faulty conductors, damaged transformers, and overloading as significant causes of power losses.

The further mention lack of an extensive system for transformer repairs by power supply companies results in most transformers being repaired by private workshops with substandard maintenance practices and non-standard copper winding quality in transformers contributes to losses.

“High fees are charged for changing three-phase industrial meters, often involving cooperation from company staff,” report said.

Union-related issues hinder legitimate demands from employees, as unions prioritize defending corruption over protecting staff and their rights.

In summary, the report highlights systemic issues within the Discos that need urgent attention and reform to address electricity theft and associated losses.