Friday, September 11, 2015

Smart Talk: Smart meters reduce utility theft

Did you know that MLGW investigates as many as 22,000 cases of utility theft, also called diversion, in one year? Twenty-two thousand cases are reported and investigated annually, but what MLGW doesn’t know is how many cases are undetected.

Moving forward with smart meters will help eliminate fraud and require everyone to pay their fair share. Here’s a real-life example of how smart meters can effectively stop dangerous diversion tactics: 

Recently, after installing smart meters in a large apartment complex, MLGW found that customers were tampering with meters, trying to divert utility services. Before crews could return to their work sites, tamper alarms were received. Revenue Protection staff were dispatched to the complex and found customers had stolen several of the newly installed smart meters from their sockets. Several months later, after being disconnected for non-payment, customers used the stolen smart meters in an attempt to illegally reconnect service. MLGW immediately received alarms and was able to retrieve the stolen meters. Proper charges were assessed to the appropriate customers and, in one case, the offending customer was issued a citation by the Memphis Police Department.

One of the benefits of smart meters is the ability to identify utility theft quicker, allowing MLGW to avert dangerous situations early and reduce the unnecessary costs associated with utility theft that are ultimately shared by all customers.

MLGW's Revenue Protection staff discovered the analog meter pictured above,
which shows signs of tampering. After being disconnected for non-payment, the customer
broke the gray security seal and restored service illegally. Smart meters will help uncover tampering
faster and reduce costs associated with utility theft.  

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