Smart Meters Take Bite Out of Electricity Theft
Electricity theft is not only dangerous, but it weakens power delivery systems around the world. Combating the problem takes technology and determination.
When Pedro Antmann, the World Bank's senior energy specialist, visits developing countries, utility officials almost invariably take him to the slums, where he sees tangles of electrical wires amid shanties.
"They want to show me everybody is stealing the electricity," Antmann said.
It's true that many poor people, unable to pay for electricity, illegally tap the grid. But they are scrambling to power lights, fans, and TVs-not air conditioners, large refrigerators, and other energy-gobbling appliances.
Rather, some of the biggest culprits are large residential, commercial, and industrial consumers who avoid paying their fair share of electricity, often by colluding with meter readers, current or ex-utility employees, or third parties.
"It's impossible (for a utility) to have high losses without having those losses concentrated in