KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 -- The Energy Commission (ST) has reminded consumers to be careful with syndicates offering energy saving services as it could be a tactic to steal electricity.
Its Enforcement and Regional Operations Department director Mohd Elmi Anas said it is learnt that these syndicates take the opportunity to dupe consumers by modifying and tampering with electricity meters on their premises in order to reduce their electricity bills.
However, he did not rule out the possibility that there were some consumers who had engaged the services of irresponsible parties to reduce their electricity bills by disrupting and tampering with the electricity metering system on their premises.
“ST would like to advise the public not to take the easy way out or be easily duped by such offers to save electricity,” he told Bernama, recently.
He said among the methods commonly used by these irresponsible parties are by cutting incoming wire cables, placing foreign objects to block or slow down the electric meter (readings), tampering with the physical condition of the meter, using a direct connection and bypassing the meter system.
Mohd Elmi said although electricity theft was usually done by consumers with high electricity consumption such as ice factories, bitcoin mining operators, there were also cases that involved domestic consumers.
“Electricity theft is an offence under Section 37 (1) and Section 37 (3) of the Electricity Supply Act 1990. If convicted, those responsible can be fined up to RM1 million or jailed for a maximum of five years for the first offence, and fined up to RM5 million or jailed for up to 10 years or both for the second and subsequent offences.
“Under Section 38 (3) of the Electricity Supply Act 1990, licensees such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) can claim revenue loss in court if they can prove that any person has tampered with or prevented the electricity meter from measuring (electricity usage) correctly,” he said.
He said that from 2015 to 2021, ST had opened a total of 64 investigation papers, of which 36 companies and individuals had been charged in court and fined while the rest had been referred to the deputy public prosecutor awaiting permission to proceed with prosecution in court.
“ST hopes that the parties who have been taken to court and fined will not repeat the act of stealing electricity and these cases can serve as a lesson to all parties not to tamper with the utility companies’ electricity meters with the intention of interfering with the electricity bill reading from recording the meter reading correctly,” he said.
Mohd Elmi also advised owners of premises to be careful not to rent out premises to tenants who carry out activities pertaining to electricity theft on the said premises.
Apart from that, he said as the regulatory body for the national energy sector, especially the electricity and piped gas supply industry in the Peninsula and Sabah, ST always implements and enforces the provisions of the energy supply law, besides ensuring public safety.
He said ST took electricity theft seriously as it not only involved security or electricity supply disruption but also had huge implications for the country and other consumers where the cost of stolen electricity would be borne by all consumers in the setting of electricity tariffs.
“As an effort to combat electricity theft, ST has established cooperation with authorities such as the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Inland Revenue Board (IRB), and local authorities (PBT) as well as conducting joint enforcement operations.
“In the case of electricity theft, the PDRM can take legal action under the Penal Code or the Crime Prevention Act,” he said.
Mohd Elmi also advised consumers to adopt power-conserving methods as well as use energy-efficient electrical appliances that have a five star energy rating to reduce their electricity bills.
“ST always welcomes public cooperation to report any activity of tampering with electricity meters via the ST Complaints system which can be accessed through the website www.st.gov.my and also via the smartphone application which can be downloaded from Google Playstore and Apple Store for free by Android and iOS users,” he added.
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