Energy regulator Ofgem has announced that electricity theft in the UK is costing consumers “at least £200m”.
The figures released on Wednesday equate to £7 per electricity customer. The report blames a third of the annual theft on cannabis farmers and proposes new rules that will tackle the fraudulent extraction of electricity.
Proposals include “setting up an industry code of practice governing how theft is investigated” and “sharing best practice across industry”. This is as well as working with other agencies such as the Home Office and police forces across the UK. Plans will also include a 24-hour helpline for reporting suspects.
The measures are intended to ensure consistency in meeting the demands of fighting the threat to sustainability.
The report comes after mayor of London Boris Johnson condoned fracking as a means of “[keeping] the lights on” in Britain. Last week, Ofgem itself highlighted that there may be a risk of blackouts in the UK in just two years.
Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, a spokesperson from Ofgem said, “People bypass the meter by tampering with the meter itself so that it doesn’t run properly, or they bypass it altogether by taking a feed directly from the main circuit outside the property.”
They added that the typical consumption at a cannabis farm is about 40 times higher per month than an average household.
The proposals set out in the report will, for the first time, give energy companies an obligation to “detect, investigate and prevent electricity theft”. The industry already detects 25,000 cases per year but has no licence condition to act.
Ofgem anticipates the new guidelines to be enforced by the first quarter of 2015.