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ARTICLE

ELECTRICITY THEFT COSTS TNB RM500 MILLION YEARLY


BY DATUK SERI CHE KHALIB MOHAMAD NOH,
PRESIDENT AND CEO, TNB
AUGUST 23, 2011

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia --- (METERING.COM) --- August 23, 2011 - Malaysias state
electricity company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is losing as much as RM500 million
($169 million) annually to thieves using increasingly elaborate measures and high-tech
equipment, according to the local Star newspaper.
In one case a commercial property owner is understood to have gone to the length of building
a secret tunnel to the meter room, where electricity theft gadgets could be quickly removed in
the event of a raid.
The manner in which meters are tampered is becoming more and more sophisticated with
various electronic gadgets used to register low readings, TNB president and CEO Datuk Seri
Che Khalib Mohamad Noh was quoted as saying, adding that there were also cases of remote
control devices being used to switch off electricity siphoning devices when meters were being
monitored by TNB.
Most of these thefts are believed to occur in commercial and industrial premises and
residential theft is thought to be not so sophisticated, principally involving crudely concealed
by-pass wires.

INTRODUCTION

1.1

ELECTRICITY THEFT
Theft of electricity is the criminal practice of stealing electrical power. It is a
crime and is punishable by fines and or incarceration. Electricity theft can be in the
form of fraud (meter tampering), stealing (illegal connections), billing irregularities,
and unpaid bills. Electricity theft is closely related to governance indicators, with
higher levels of theft in countries without effective accountability, political instability,
low government effectiveness and high levels of corruption. Electricity theft can be
reduced by applying technical solutions such as tamper-proof meters, managerial
methods such as inspection and monitoring, and in some cases restructuring power
systems ownership and regulation.
Electricity fraud can be defined as a dishonest or illegal use of electricity
equipment or service with the intention to avoid billing charge. It is relatively difficult
to distinguish between honest and fraudulent customers. Realistically, electric utilities
will never be able to eliminate fraud, however, it is possible to take measures to
detect, prevent and reduce fraud.
In deregulated markets, the knowledge of electricity customers provides an
understanding of their consumption behaviour, which has recently become important
in the electricity supply industry. The electricity providers are able to develop new
marketing strategies and offer services based on customer demand. One of the most
common methods used in acquiring knowledge of customers behaviour is load
profiling, which is defined as the pattern of electricity consumption of a customer or
group of customers over a period. Load profiling has been used for many years by
power utilities for tariff formulation, system planning, and devising marketing
strategies.
Most effective method currently to reduce electricity theft and commercial
losses up to date is by using smart and intelligent electronic meters, which make
fraudulent activities more difficult, and easy to detect. However, the cost of such
meters comes at an expensive price. Therefore, these types of meters are not currently
feasible to be used by power utilities throughout the entire low voltage (LV)

1.2

distribution network such as in residential and commercial sectors.


METER TAMPERING

Meter installation tampering occurs when TNBs meter installation/meter is


tampered with altered or damage which causes the meter fails to record the output or
actual consumption of electricity [2]. Meter tampering is a major factor in power
industry where the total revenue loss of transmission and distribution loss. Its also
been categorize under electricity undercharges. Meter tampering also called as
electricity theft. It was an act using the electrical power without a contract with TNB
and interfered within the metering system in the way to ensure inaccurate
consumption of electricity recorded [2].
Electric meters or kWh (Kilowatt-hour) meters record readings which are used to
bill customers for the amount of electricity consumed. In many developing countries
in the ASEAN group, electro-mechanical induction electricity meters are currently
used, which can easily be tampered. Inspection of electric meters for fraud detection
and identification is currently a manual and tedious task, which requires experienced
staff. However, a meter malfunction 5 corrections is currently limited for experienced
utility staff, due to the complexity associated in rectifying problematic electric meters.

CASE STUDY

Meter tampering or meter theft was major issue in distribute the electricity at their
residence and factory. In 2011, TNB losing as much as RM500 million annually to thieves the
manner in which meters are tampered is becoming more and more sophisticated with various
electronic gadgets used to make sure the low reading in TNB meter[1].
Tampered meters will have signs of tampering on the meter, such as security seals
and stickers that have been tampered with; meter accuracy is slow, scratch marks on the
meter disc and or body, foreign wires or switches connected to the installation etc. [3]

2.1

METER TAMPERING METHOD


1) Meter by pass

Figure 1.1: An electric wire bypassing the electricity meter


An electric wire bypassing the meter is identified and a wire of a magnet bar
inserted into an electric meter to reduce the speed rotating disc is identified. Large
inspection campaigns have been carried out by TNBD SEAL teams with little success.
The current actions taken by the SEAL teams in order to address the problem of
electricity theft include meter checking and premise inspection, reporting on
irregularities and monitoring of unbilled accounts, which have resulted in a fraud
detection hit rate of 3-5%. This is because customer installation inspections are
carried out without any specific focus or direction. In most cases, inspections are
carried out at random, while some targeted raids are undertaken based on information
reported by the public or meter readers.

2)

Using magnet

Figure 1.2: magnet at outside meter


A common method of tampering with electric meters is by attaching magnets
to the outside of the meter. These magnets prevent the alternating current from
forming eddy currents in the rotor, by saturating the coils or current transformers.
Rectified DC loads causes mechanical but not electronic meters to under-register. As
the DC currents do not cause the coils to make eddy currents in the disk, thus causing
reduced rotation and a lower bill. Other ways of tampering in electric meters and
playing with the electric meter security is to use some combinations of capacitive and
inductive load, which also result in reduced or reverse motion.
Today, many modern meters can easily detect all of these effects. The owner
of the meter normally secures the meter against tampering. Newer computerized
meters usually have counter-measures against tampering. In order to find and fix
power distribution problems, power companies today normally investigate
discrepancies between the total billed and the total generated These investigations are
an effective method of discovering tampering and security in electric meters.

3)

Power line tapping

Figure 1.3: Power line tapping


Electrical power theft detection system is used to detect an unauthorized
tapping on distribution lines. Implementation area of this system is a distribution
network of electrical power supply system. Existing system is not able to identify the
exact location of tapping. This system actually finds out on which electrical line there

is a tapping. This is a real time system. Wireless data transmission and receiving
technique is used. This will provide an additional facility of wireless meter reading
with the same technique and in same cost. This will protect distribution network from
power theft done by tapping, meter tampering etc.

DISCUSSION
Under Section 37 of the Electricity Supply Act, those found guilty of electricity
theft can be slapped with a maximum penalty of RM100, 000 or three years jail
by the Energy Commission

By doing the meter tampering, the electricity bills more save to user. But the
truth by doing that it might high risk for the user. Especially for meter bypass where
the illegal wiring might be not properly connected and arcing possibly to occur where
it will lead to fire. For the direct tapping power line, the electrical equipment at
distribution substation might be damage due to overload. As we know, the power been
supplied was depending on the total load at the area that has been contracted.
Customers are exposed to electric shock risks when attempting meter tampering. In
the event of short-circuits due to meter tampering, the fuse may not operate properly
and may cause fire [4]. Nowadays, TNB has many team member trained with
knowledge how to carry out meter inspection with the fully equipment and TNB can
trace and detect the meter tampering by using a TNB system and by check the TNB
bill decrease from the last month.

3.1

STEP TO SAVE ELECTRIC BILL

1)

Use power electrical saver

The main advantage of power savers is not that they provide a backup system
in times of low current, but that it protects the household appliances. It is known that a
sudden rise in the power can destroy the electrical appliance. Thus, the power saver
not only protects the appliance but also increases its life. Moreover, they also reduce
the energy consumption and thus the electricity

Figure 1.4: Power electrical saver

bills. Moreover, a power saver also removes any type of carbon in the system, which
facilitates further smoother flow.

2)

Switch off the light or any appliances when not been used
Vampire electronics, electronics that use power even when they are not turned
on, suck up power and raise electric bills every month. Although there are many ways
to save on electricity with conserve energy every month by unplugging appliances
that arent using. There are many ways to save on electricity, but unplugging the
following appliances when arent using them will
lower Texas electricity bill right away.

3)

Figure 1.5: Save Energy

Use the low power rating appliance


The low power rating appliance is an
alternative way to save the electric bill because the low power rating is not to use
more power and energy. Besides, the low power rating is more efficiency energy and
saving energy.
Figure 1.6: low power rating
CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the meter tampering was


illegally action where its not safe to user or other
consumer if anything happen although its save
electricity bill. Since the TNB fixed the electricity
tariff rate in Peninsular Malaysia then theres no need to do such illegal thing which
might high risk toward us while the supplier had loss due to electricity theft. It is
expected that, utilization the fraud detection system will benefit TNB not
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only in improving its handling of electric theft but will complement their existing ongoing practices and it is envisaged that tremendous savings will result from the use of
this system. As it usually happens in an area of research, a lot of approaches can be
used and developed, given the appropriate amount of time and effort. The proper
application and use of the fraud detection system will be greatly appreciated both by
TNB and those who regulate the electricity in Malaysia, and it is hoped with the use
of the developed system significant savings and electric theft reduction will result to
the power utilities. Thus, it is desired that more applications should be developed and
applied for the improvement and quality of human life.

REFERENCES
[1] Utilisation of electrical energy (BEF33203)
[2] Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), 2015, FAQ on meter replacement, [online], 16september,
available

at:

http://www.tnb.com.my/faq/category/meter-replacement-due-to-meter-

tampering.html
[3] Metering.com, 2011, Electricity theft costs TNB RM500 million yearly, metering and
smart

energy

international,

[online],

16september,

available

at:

http://www.metering.com/electricity-theft-costs-tnb-rm500-million-yearly/
[4] Ir.Nirinder, 2012, Tenaga Link, Volume 04/12, [online], 16september, available at:
http://www.tnb.com.my/tnb/application/uploads/tenagalink/ef9d1264d7a709ca6fa9bbf84
fdabff2.pdf
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[5] Anon, 2014. Electricity meter tampering rampant. The Borneo Post, [online] 12 April.
Available

at:

http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/06/16/fines-up-to-rm1-mln-for-

electricity-theft-meter-tampering-under-new-law/
[6] T. B. Smith, Electricity Theft: A Comparative Analysis, Energy Policy, vol. 32, no. 18,
Dec. 2004, pp. 2067-2076.
[7] A. H. Nizar, Z. Y. Dong, and Y. Wang, Power Utility Nontechnical Loss Analysis with
Extreme Learning Machine Method, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, vol. 23, no.
3, Aug. 2008, pp. 946-955.