There are up to 25,000 cases of electricity theft every year, costing UK consumers at least £200m according to energy regulator Ofgem.
With electricity theft putting each consumer our of pocket and a third of stolen electricity being used to power cannabis farms, Ofgem is unveiling new rules to ensure energy suppliers tackle the problem.
Stopping electricity theft
Under the new proposals, which Ofgem expects to put into place from next year, suppliers will be required to detect, investigate and prevent electricity theft, with fines if they do not follow the rules.
To comply with these rules, Ofgem proposes that suppliers will need to set up a national risk assessment service to help target premises where they suspect electricity is being stolen.
In addition, suppliers and network companies will need to create an industry code of practice governing how theft investigations should be carried out, and share best practice about how theft is identified.
Ofgem is also pressing suppliers to set up a 24-hour hotline so customers can report suspected electricity theft.
How to spot electricity theft
As well as suppliers taking a more active role in preventing and dealing with electricity theft, there are things that consumers can do to help protect themselves. Here are things to be aware of and report to your supplier:
- meters or meter boxes that have been tampered with
- foreign objects in the meter
- cut or frayed wires
- changes in electricity patterns
An energy monitor is a useful way to keep track of your energy usage, and it should help you save money, too. You can also use our guide to help you measure your electricity consumption.
Tackle the energy market by joining our campaign
Tackling problems in the energy market is more important than ever as people struggle with energy price rises, added to by the cost of thefts.
Which? wants simple energy tariffs with a single unit price so energy prices can be easily compared at a glance allowing people to find the cheapest energy deal. So in 2011 Which? launched the Affordable Energy Campaign to help make a difference – you can support the campaign by signing our pledge.