REG to install smart metres to curb electricity theft

Rwanda Energy Group (REG) loses about Rwf19bn annually to power theft and grid inefficiency owing to dilapidated power lines and connections.

The losses have had an impact on electricity tariffs as the utility company seeks to make a business case.

Higher losses partly mean that only a section of electricity users are paying for services, which leads to an increase in tariffs as the utility body seeks to meet operational costs.

Speaking to The New Times, the CEO of REG Ron Weiss explained that power theft is a challenge, although measures are being taken.

“People are stealing electricity and it is still a challenge, but we are about to fully address it because we are implementing smart meters in different places of the network in the new system, and we are catching more and more people’.

Theft of electricity is punishable by law N°52/2018 of 13/08/2018 modifying Law Nº21/2011 of 23/06/2011 governing electricity in Rwanda as modified to date.

Most electrical theft crimes occur through meter tampering, bypassing meters, and tapping power lines, tapping into neighbouring premises and using illegal lines, among others.

Findings from two months’ inspection conducted by REG last year exposed a total of 28 customers from nine districts caught red-handed stealing electricity.

They included individual households, small businesses, hotels, milling machines, bars/restaurants, and industries. The amount of electricity stolen by these customers was an estimated Rwf19 billion.

Weiss called upon everyone to use electricity in an honest way, “because when someone is stealing electricity, it affects everyone.

Part of increasing the tariff; if everyone will use electricity in a proper way, it will allow us to reduce the tariff of all the clients.”

He also explained that under the technical part where some lines are old, REG is addressing the issue by replacing lines that are old.

“Any old component in the network that at the moment is consuming more power than needed, we are replacing it with a new one.”

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) on January 14 announced new power tariffs.

The new tariff which went into force last week saw an increase in price for large residential customers and industries but slashed the tariffs for healthcare facilities and data centres.

According to the new tariff, residential customers who consume between 15 and 50 kilowatts per month are now paying Rwf212 per KWh instead of Rwf182, while those who consume beyond 50 kilowatts per month will be paying Rwf249 per KWh instead of Rwf210.

For non-residential customers with monthly consumption of 100 kilowatts, the new price is Rwf227 per kWh, while customers consuming more than 100 kilowatts, the new tariff is Rwf255 per kWh.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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