Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

RMI Power Utility Looks To Stop ‘Electricity Cheaters’
Meter tampering customers publicly named, shamed

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Feb. 25, 2013) – The Marshalls Energy Company has launched a campaign to stop electricity cheaters.

"We may not catch you now," said Marshalls Energy Company General Manager David Paul, "but we will definitely catch you."

The government power utility earlier this month began checking and renewing the seals on all power meters in Majuro. "We are inventorying our meters and meter numbers to update our system," Paul said. These inspections are already uncovering numerous instances of meter tampering by local residents.

The initial survey last week found more than 25 residences cheating on power, Paul said. He expects the number to go up as utility crews inspect all meters on Majuro in the coming weeks. As part of its campaign to discourage meter tampering, the utility published a notice in the February 22 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal titled, "Illegal hookups — Names of Shame" and named 28 customers.

"We have a newly formed department called the meter inspection team," Paul said. He warned power cheaters and people considering tampering with their meters to beware. "They’re out there (the meter inspection team) and you never know, but they are watching you," he said.

But it is not only the inspections that can show meter fraud, he said.

The utility’s accounting and billing system shows customers’ spending trends and if these suddenly drop, it raises a red flag for the meter inspection team to check out. "Our system can tell us who has not been buying power," Paul said.

He encouraged anyone who has illegally tampered with their meter to immediately correct the problem. "Make it legal," he said. "If we spot it, you’re going to be in trouble."

Anyone caught tampering with their meter is subject to immediate disconnection, a $1,000 fine and a $100 re-connection fee.

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