By Mohamed Adel
The Ministry of Electricity will begin taking requests at the start of June to install meters on slum buildings that are currently “illegally using electricity”. The meters do not afford any form of legal right, or reconcilliation to the status of buildings currently stealing electricity in slum areas, according to Hafez Salmawy, head of the power utility.
The Ministry of Electricity estimates that 4% of the country’s annual electricity production is stolen. The estimated value of the stolen electricity is approximately EGP 1bn in subsidies, and an actual cost of EGP 2bn, Salmawy added
Those who have benefited from electricity without signing contracts will be held accountable, and each company will distribute unique coded numbers to beneficiaries, Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker said in a Monday statement, adding that this will allow the ministry to determine their subscribers, preserve resources, and avoid overusing the network.
Electricity distribution companies will install meters with prepaid cards upfront. The counters are not owned by their users, and local administrative agencies can take action to remove units in violation at any time, the statement added.
Units will be randomly inventoried, and there will be a number of regulations governing their use, such as establishing stations and networks close to the unit, according to Salmawy
The counters will work by controlling the process of consumption and the amount of service received in order to put an end to buildings that steal electricity. This will play a large role in rationing consumption, the ministry noted.
A number of regulations will be put in place to govern the process of installing meters within offending buildings and to bring these buildings in line with the standards of all electricity distribution companies, Shaker said.
Shaker added that theseregulations include the installation of meters in buildings over the course of two phases: the first phase will include properties that currently receive electricity legally, and the second, illegally.
There will be an exception to the installation of meters for both units built on archaeological areas, per the law on the protection of electrical installations, and those in violation of height restrictions prescribed by the law on civil aviation, Shaker said.
The decision to install meters in slum areas has been on the table since 2006, but the cabinet’s decision was suspended after the 25 January Revolution due to increased construction and encroachment on farmland. The suspension of meter installations has encouraged electricity theft, Salmawy said.
The implementation of the cabinet decision comes with the approval of the electricity distribution companies to reinstall temporary meters for units receiving electricity in order to register consumers of the power supply, according to a press release of the Ministry of Electricity.