Lansing, MI, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 22, 2010 – Michigan governor Jennifer M. Granholm yesterday signed a package of bills aimed at preventing energy theft through meter tampering and protecting utility employees and contractors as they go about their business.
The bipartisan package of bills aims to decrease unauthorized electric and natural gas utility service connections as well as to protect consumers from increased costs related to energy theft.
“When individuals tamper with their connections or meters, every customer pays the increased cost of service to cover the losses,” Granholm said. “This legislation will deter energy theft and protect people from unnecessary charges and risk of harm.”
The bill package, comprising Senate Bills 1310-1314, requires utility companies to use best practices to address unsafe connections caused by the unauthorized use of electric or natural gas service and allows them to take steps to deter future unauthorized use. It also makes it a crime for any person to sell or transfer electricity or natural gas to another person, knowing or having reason to know that the product or service was obtained unlawfully.
Additionally, penalties are set for the assault of a public utility worker or contractor who is performing his or her duties on the job. The offenses range from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine for a worker’s death.
In the prevailing economic climate energy theft and non payment for electric power and gas has become increasingly prevalent.
Indeed in a recent company statement Gerry Anderson, president and chief operating officer of the Michigan utility DTE Energy, said the company is currently experiencing a serious rash of energy theft, concentrated in Detroit, at levels unique in the U.S. As of early May through collaboration of DTE Energy with the Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, there had been 44 arrests related to energy theft so far this year, Anderson reported.