ECG officials aided consumers to do illegal connections, meter tampering — ACEP reveals

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has accused some agents of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) including subcontractors of facilitating and conniving with consumers to engage in illegal connections and meter tempering for their selfish interest.

At a press briefing addressed by Kodzo Yaotse, Policy Lead – Petroleum and Conventional Energy, revealed that these agents and subcontractors are usually entrusted with the mandate to install meters who end up abusing their mandate.

“Agents of the power distributors, including subcontractors and service providers who distribute meters among others, actively facilitate and advise consumers on illegal connections and meter tampering for their private gains”.

According to ACEP, a study they conducted identified 3,667 illegally connected Self-Help Electrification Program (SHEP) meters from selected urban and suburban residential areas of which 70% of these meters had non-functioning LCD displays hence consumption data could not be accessed.

The remaining ones, according to ACEP, showed very high consumption with some as high as 28,320kWh.

Another worrying trend observed by ACEP during their monitoring was the issue of ” abortion meters”.

Abortion Meters, according to ACEP are meters “that are deliberately damaged with the application of concentrated heat on the digital displays or the removal of the digital components of the meter which allows communication with the power distributors, all in a bid to erase and prevent record of consumption, especially when it is very high.”

It was also revealed that some politicians share SHEP meters from the Energy Ministry for electoral purposes without involving the power distributors.

The consequence of these acts led to distribution losses in the system which is estimated to cost about GHS1.3billion annually, with an average cost of about GHp15/kWh to the consumer.

The energy policy think tank is therefore suggesting that;

1. ECG should immediately take steps to regularise all SHEP meters and eliminate the damaged ones.

2. ECG should adopt a whistleblower mechanism to support the detection of illegal connections in the system.

3. ECG should overhaul their monitoring system to ensure that they are able to account for consumption in the system. Particular attention should be paid to the high voltage feeders to enable them to identify where power theft is high.

4. Again, power distributors should monitor their staff and subcontractors in charge of installing and reading meters to identify the recalcitrant ones who are engaged in illegal connection to sanctions.

5. The Ministry of Energy should ensure that installation of the SHEP meters is made with the active participation of the power distribution companies to ensure they are captured into their system for billing.