Check-ups and penalties against electricity theft have intensified

In order to pay smaller electricity bills, some consumers seek methods of tricking the electricity meters, their number being on the rise and generating damages that run into the tens of millions of euros every year. According to the National Energy Regulation Authority (ANRE), the electricity stolen through illegal connections to the grid represents consumed but unpaid for electricity. In what concerns the risks incurred by those resorting to such actions, apart from risks of a legal nature they also consist of the risk of electrocuting themselves or other persons, of causing damages etc.
Likewise, in what concerns the distribution networks the theft of electricity through illegal connections warps (falsify) the distribution operators’ own technological consumption. Thus, according to the law (law 123/2012 on electricity – Felonies section), the theft of electricity represents a crime (theft), being punishable in line with the Penal Code. Thus, Article 1 points out that deteriorating, blocking or unlawfully modifying the components of the electricity meter or of the energy installations represents a felony and is punishable by 3 months to 2 years in jail, or by fines. Article 2 points out that creating or using clandestine installations in order to connect to the grid or bypass meters represents a felony and is punishable by 6 months to 3 years in jail, or fines.
The only bodies qualified to investigate and establish the existence or inexistence of elements of a possible crime are the criminal investigation bodies, namely the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, and the distribution operators have to call on the legal bodies.
The distribution operators have to call on the legal bodies when, as a result of their verifications, they consider that possible crimes of this nature have taken place. “We consider it would be useful, for concrete data, to call directly on leased distribution operators (ENEL Distributie Banat, ENEL Distributie Dobrogea, ENEL Distributie Muntenia, E.ON Moldova Distributie, FDEE Electrica Distributie Muntenia Nord, FDEE Electrica Distributie Transilvania Nord, FDEE Electrica Distributie Transilvania Sud, CEZ Distributie),” the ANRE adds in the document.
In this sense, Enel Distributie Muntenia conducted, with the support of the Romanian Police, controls in Bucharest on March 17-28, in order to discover any illegal connections to the electricity grid. As part of an action meant to prevent and combat electricity thefts, coordinated by the Romania Police’s Public Order Directorate, over 200 felonies were discovered in Bucharest, a press communique revels. The investigations are continuing in all those cases, the charges brought being of electricity theft, as stipulated by Law 123/2012 on electricity and natural gas.
In 2013, illegal connections among household consumers resulted in damages representing approximately 5 percent of the energy distributed by Enel, which represents a negative impact of approximately EUR 20 M on the company’s revenues and EBITDA. Almost 1,200 criminal complaints were registered last year as a result of the controls conducted with the support of the Romanian Police.
Moreover, Enel, the Romanian Police and the Romanian Gendarmerie are conducting at national level (on the basis of their collaboration protocol) activities meant to identify persons that are illegally connected to the electricity grid or makeshift connections and electricity installations. Such joint controls are taking place every week.

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