KENYA POWER

Why power theft, illegal electricity connections can land you in jail

The offence of illegal connection and electricity theft attracts a fine of Sh1 million or one year’s imprisonment or both.

In Summary
  • Illegal connections pose a danger to the public as unauthorized electrical links are done using substandard and crude materials.
  • Illegal connections are also mostly done by inexperienced or untrained personnel and therefore do not meet the required standards.
The Kenya power symbol .FILE
The Kenya power symbol .FILE

As Kenya Power strives to ensure universal electricity connectivity, the Company continues to tackle several challenges along the way, among them electricity theft and illegal connections.

Electricity theft and illegal connections are some of the vices that contribute to system losses.

System losses are the difference between the total amount of energy procured and the amount of energy sold and has two main components: technical losses and commercial losses.

According to the power utility, technical losses are inherent in every power system and occur in the transmission and distribution process while commercial losses arise from meter tampering, meter bypasses and other illegal activities on the network.

Kenya Power’s system losses stood at 23.9% as of June 2021. This was mainly driven by the rapid growth in the Company’s electricity network and number of customers, and increased illegal activities on the network.

According to the Company, illegal connections pose a danger to the public as unauthorized electrical links are done using substandard and crude materials, thus can easily cause harm through electrocutions, fires as well as damage to household appliances.

Illegal connections are also mostly done by inexperienced or untrained personnel and therefore do not meet the required standards.

“Illegal electricity connections cause overloads on transformers which compromise the quality and reliability of power supply to legally connected customers while posing safety concerns since they do not adhere to globally acceptable standards,” said Kenya Power in its Annual Report for the year ended 30th June 2021.

Electricity theft also denies the Company the much-needed revenue as illegally connected customers do not pay for the power consumed.

To combat this vice, Kenya Power, in collaboration with law enforcers, is carrying out a concerted campaign to disconnect illegally connected customers and arrest those behind the vice.

At the same time, staff found colluding with customers and who perpetrate the misconduct have faced stern action including prosecutions.

To further step up the war on energy losses, the Company launched a loss reduction initiative dubbed ‘The War Room’ in February 2021 to spearhead system loss reduction initiatives.

“A raft of measures have been instituted by the War Room team including ensuring timely metering of customers, fast-tracking replacement of faulty meter and targeted inspection of meters to establish their integrity," Kenya Power says.

"Addressing postpaid billing and prepaid meter vending issues, and preventing electricity theft through meter bypasses and illegal connections were also some of the instituted measures," Kenya Power adds. 

To combat illegal connections in informal settlements, especially in Mathare, Mukuru and Kibera where Kenya Power loses an estimated 80% of expected revenue due to the vice in these three areas, the Company has collaborated with Community-Based Organisations(CBOs).

“Under the partnership, the CBOs will act as the Company’s ambassadors and report on issues affecting customers. Kenya Power will continue to ensure that all customers in informal settlements are properly metered,” added the power entity in its Annual Report.

To further boost the war against electricity theft, Kenya Power is also collaborating with the National Youth Service (NYS) to fully digitise the network.

The completion of the data clean-up exercise and digitisation will aid the Company in the war against losses, as it is a prerequisite for the transformer metering project.

This will enable the business to compare the power going into a feeder or distribution transformer, and the total power being consumed by the customers linked to the feeder or distribution transformer in question.

Kenya Power’s efforts to combat illegal connections have also been boosted by a robust law that spells out tough penalties on perpetrators of the vice.

According to the Energy Act 2019, there are several retributions for anyone caught either illegally connecting power or using illegally connected energy and these include imprisonment and heavy fines.

The offence of illegal connection and electricity theft attracts a fine of Sh1 million or one year’s imprisonment or both. The customer will also have their power disconnected.

At the same time, breaking or tampering with electricity meters and seals will see the offender fined Sh50,000 or two years imprisonment or both.

Also, vandalism, theft and damage of street lights and power installations attract a fine of Sh5 Million or five years’ imprisonment or both.

At the same time, Kenya Power is encouraging members of the public to report cases of illegal connections they may be aware of to the nearest police station or call the hotline number 0711 031848.

One can also contact the Company’s call centre on 97771 to report such vices.