Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — (METERING.COM) — February 12, 2009 – A new law, 186-07, making provision for punishment for electricity theft will come into effect in the Dominican Republic on February 20.

Making the announcement electricity regulator Superintendencia de Electricidad (SIE) head Francisco Méndez said that electricity theft cost the government $740 million to cover the deficit of distributors in 2008 and that such a drain on resources could not continue.

“It is time to put a stop to the widespread theft of electricity in our country,” said Méndez, adding that “the same will that exists to subsidize the system is there to punish such theft.”

Law 186-07 was promulgated in July 2007. Since then, the relevant institutions have been readying themselves for its implementation. Specific regulations and changes to the penal code have been prepared, and personnel have been trained in the implementation. The laboratories of the standards directorate DIGENOR (Dirección de Normas y Sistemas de Calidad) have been readied and a state attorney with responsibility for the electricity sector has been established. In addition the SIE has created a structure to ensure the correct application of the law, including a field audit section and a department of service quality control, both within the retail electricity market directorate.

The aims of the act are to regularize the electricity supply of thousands of customers, to reduce losses, and to reduce the deficit in the sector, and thereby to benefit users with improved quality of service.

The law makes provision for fines and/or prison time for electricity theft.

The law also seeks to improve the service of the distributors. In particular it is intended to reduce poor practices associated with delays in restoring service suspensions for non payment, delays in implementing new connections, unauthorized suspension of supply, and consecutive estimated billings of customers with meters.

“The act is therefore two-way and its spirit is to be a deterrent,” said Méndez.