Theft of electrical power from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) network is relatively high for Cyprus standards with €500,000 worth recorded stolen last year.
In 2016, 980 consumers adjusted their electricity meters and stole over €500,000 worth of electricity amongst which a major concern which stole over €200,000 worth.
Despite collecting their dues, the EAC has seen that an untold amount of revenue is lost each year due to thefts which are not detected.
In 2016, 9,121 cases in which metres were tampered with were recorded and of which 980 involved the theft of electricity.
EAC Deputy Executive Network Director Tassos Gregoriou explained that the 7,141 remaining metres did not involve theft but attempts by home owners to fix some problem with their power supply.
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The economic crisis also played a role, and in 2012, 16,405 meter-box violations were reported and included 1,465 cases of electricity theft, the highest for the ten year period 2007-2016.
In 2007, just 166 cases of electricity theft were recorded totalling some €9,857. Seven years later, in 2014, 915 cases were reported involving some €173,000 worth of stolen electricity.
“The theft of energy is a timeless and global phenomenon, even in the most developed countries,” said Grigoriou.
In order to address the problem, Gregoriou explained that the EAC has intensified its on-the-spot checks, which are done either by reviewing previous measurements, by regular checks or by extraordinary periodic sampling.
The EAC will be introducing a pilot plan to test out smart electricity metres in 3,000 homes and commercial and business premises which believe will help in reducing the theft of electricity.
The pilot programme is essential according to the EAC as an EU directive dictates that 80% of metres in Cyprus need to be changed by 2020.
The smart metres will be installed indoors and will replace the current outdoor metres currently in use.
The switch over to smart metres will cost €80 million and will include all 600,000 EAC customers.
As yet, it has not been decided how the costs will be covered but in any event, it will fall back to the consumer.
Authorities are currently toying with either charging the customer for the installation or to channel the cost through the EAC’s tariffs.