Can You Get In Trouble For Turning Power Back On? Electricity Theft Explained

The cost of electricity is steadily rising. As a result, the majority of households are struggling to keep up with electrical bills. Unfortunately, this has led to many homes having their power lines disconnected.

Getting your power line disconnected can be frustrating. It is almost impossible to operate without electricity. In addition, the damages of a power disconnection are worse for businesses. 

So what happens when you are disconnected? 

Can you get in trouble for turning the power back on? 

Yes. Turning your power back on is considered to be electricity theft. The act is a criminal offense and is punishable by law.

The practice of turning your power on is dangerous. It can easily destroy life and property. Furthermore, if prosecuted and found guilty, you could end up in jail with a criminal record.

Why You Should Never Interfere With Your Electrical Connection

Unauthorized interference with electrical equipment is discouraged in America. The practice is shunned for the following reasons;

1. Public Safety Concerns

Stealing electricity is a serious public safety concern. The act is illegal, and it raises the cost of electricity for all users. In addition, a faulty connection can cause short circuits leading to electrical fires.

Electricity tampering also endangers the perpetrator’s life. One can easily cause an explosion. It can also lead to serious injury or death from electrocution.

 However, a lot of people still take part in the vice to avoid paying bills. This practice is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

2. It Is Illegal

Electrical theft is illegal and punishable. Electricity companies are investing resources to detect unlawful meter interference. 

They have personnel dedicated to discovering electric theft. If caught doing so, you can easily be prosecuted. Successful prosecution can result in imprisonment and a criminal record. 

Such criminal records can cause restrictions in travel and job eligibility.

3. Can Lead To Penalties

Electricity suppliers have strict policies in place to curb tempering. But, unfortunately, most of these measures are extreme and can result in outrageous penalties.

If found guilty of tampering, you will have to pay for reconnection. In addition, you will be required to replace the meter and pay for a fresh installation.

 Any damages resulting from your interference will also be billed to your account. You can also be prosecuted for endangering the public.

Electricity theft comes with a ton of risks. Even though it might seem like a shortcut, it is not worth all the risks. 

It should be noted that the account holder is usually the one penalized. That’s why it is a good practice to use certified electrical technicians. These professionals will ensure that your connections are made as per the requirement.

Types Of Electricity Theft

Many people associate electricity theft with meter bypassing alone. However, there are other practices considered to be electricity theft. So do people steal electricity?

1. Meter Tampering

Meter tampering is one of the most electrical malpractices. It involves the manipulation of the meter to alter its readings. The most commonly used tampering technique is magnetic tampering.

It is achieved by building resistance between the outgoing current and the circuit plate. Resistance in this region limits the current being measured.

Modern electrical meters feature tempering censors. They can detect and report any tampering attempts.

2. Meter Bypassing

As the name suggests, it involves ‘wiring around’ the meter. First, a consumer cuts the main cable before it reaches the meter. The cut wire is then connected directly after the meter.

Only a small amount of electricity passes through the meter. Meter bypassing, therefore, works by reducing the number of units recorded by the meter. This way, the company will always undercharge the consumer.

3. Direct Connection Theft

This involves the use of direct connections without a meter. The customer eliminates the meter in their connection. This way, the electricity supplier will not be able to account for units used.

Such connections tend to be unsafe as they don’t utilize fuses and cutouts. A faulty connection in such a setup can easily burn down a house.

How Does Electricity Company Turn Off Power?

The electric company can either cut your electricity physically or remotely. The method they use will depend on your meter. 

Analog meters are usually disconnected physically. It is done by removing the fuse from the meter. Unfortunately, this breaks the circuit and consequently cuts you off.

Some companies will insert insulators in your meter lugs and fit them back in. Others replace the meter with a plastic cover. Unfortunately, if you try to restore power on your own, they can cut your wires at the pole.

Recent years have seen development in electrical appliance technology. Most companies are now embracing smart meters.

These meters came with a ton of advantages compared to the conventional ones. For instance, they have anti tampering mechanisms that detect tampering.

 They also have a remote accessibility feature. This means that your electric company can read your bill remotely. They can also disconnect you with a single press of a button.

Reasons Why Your Electricity Can Be Disconnected

There are several reasons why the power supply to your house can be cut. These reasons can be consumer-specific or otherwise. The most common reasons for disconnection are;

1. Delayed  Payments

This is a customer-specific reason for the disconnection. Your electricity company will likely disconnect you if you default on your payments. A reconnection fee is often imposed before restoration.

2. Electricity Theft Allegations

Your power can be disconnected during an investigation. For example, if you are suspected of electricity theft, your company will disconnect you to pave the way for investigations.

Electric companies encourage public vigilance. For example, if someone suspects you of electricity theft, they can file a report. That information will then trigger an investigation.  

Smart meters can also send reports of tampering. Your electrical company will then come to investigate the reports. If guilty, you can be charged and sentenced to jail by a court of law. 

3.  Infrastructure Maintenance

Your power can also be disconnected for maintenance purposes. This usually occurs when there is a problem with the electrical grid. In such an event, all lines connected to the grid might be disconnected.

How Do I Get My Power Reconnected?

You will need to contact your electricity supply for reconnection. You may have to incur some expenses depending on your reason for the disconnection.

Clear all your outstanding bills and contact your supplier. Most companies have a dispatch crew that will get you hooked in no time. You would have to replace your meter if you were disconnected due to tempering.

How Does Electricity Reach Our Homes?

Electricity is generated in power plants. These plants are often located in rural areas. It is then transported on an electrical grid using conducting material.

These grids are well designed to minimize current loss. Their perfect design allows them to transport large volts over a long distance. The current is then stepped down before being distributed to homes.

Why Are Power Plants Located In Rural Areas?

Power plants are located in rural areas for the following strategic reasons

1. The land is cheaper in rural areas

Setting up power plants requires a lot of capital. A good chunk of this money goes into land acquisition. The cost of land is lower in rural areas. This makes it more economical to set up a power plant in rural areas.

2. Pollution

Power plants emit a lot of gas effluents. If inhaled, these gases can cause respiratory complications. It’s for this reason that power plants are established far from formal settlements.

What Do You Do If You Can’t Pay Your Electricity Bills?

There are several options for individuals who cannot foot their bills. Talk to your supplier to get the right product for you. Some practical options include;

1. Use Of Prepaid Meters

You can use Pay as you go meters. With these meters, you only pay whenever you need to use electricity. This greatly helps you to stick within your budget. It also ensures that your electrical bill doesn’t pile up.

2. Making Tailored Payments

You can also make arrangements for tailored payments. With tailored payments, you can pay your electricity bills in small installments. This method of payment is ideal for individuals with consistent income.

3. Utilizing Unpaid Energy

You can use unpaid solar energy to lower your electricity bill. This option can be used to supplement or substitute electricity. 

Solar panels can be used to power household appliances. They can also be used on a bigger scale to power manufacturing plants. 

Farmers in rural areas can set up biogas plants to generate electricity. This not only saves them money but also increases their farm’s productivity. However, one limitation with this option is the high capital required to get set up.

Conclusion

Turning your power back on can land you into trouble. Electricity theft is a criminal offense, and it should be avoided. If caught by your company, you can be fined or even sentenced.

Tempering with electricity is also dangerous. Fault connections can lead to death from electrocution. It can also result in electrical fires and explosions. 

Tempering with electricity makes you liable for all damage that might occur. If caught, your company will require you to replace the equipment. Some will even charge you a labor fee before reconnecting you.

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