Utility Week

Utility Week 18th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Operations & Assets Pipe up Tony Thornton Eradicating theft is not just the responsibility of energy firms. Support is needed from government and the public. E workers operating on 45 separate projects to ensure the network of supporting treatment works can take the strain while Haweswater is offline. Crew members who will enter the aqueduct must wear sterilised suits and have had to pass psychological tests to show they can cope with long periods in small spaces. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, please send your pictures and details of the project to: paul.newton@fav-house.com nergy theft is not a victimless crime. It costs energy suppliers around £400 million a year or, over two years, the price of a new gas-fired power station. Energy theft is also a serious risk to public health and safety: gas theft carries the risk of explosion; electricity theft the risk of fires and electrocution. The latter also has a strong association with the growing incidence of cannabis farming and organised crime. In addition to the obvious risks that can be linked to faulty connections and tampered meters, people need to be made aware of the wider social consequences, of risks to their personal safety and well-being, and of the impacts on their pocket due to the effect on their bills. To the criminals, I can confirm the energy industry is stepping up its game. Gemserv is proud to be associated with the UK Revenue Protection Association (UKRPA), of which I am chairman. UKPRA members have a long history Energy theft of sharing intelligence and is not only a knowledge and, as an associaserious risk to tion, it is committed to driving best practices. It is supportive public health of Ofgem's policy initiatives for and safety, it establishing new theft arrangealso has an ments to facilitate improved effect on bills industry-wide mechanisms to make this happen. Very effective work is being done in other industries that can provide useful lessons. For example, the Insurance Fraud Bureau has successfully joined information from multiple insurance providers and fraud has been detected that could not have been found by looking at just one organisation's data in isolation. Detecting theft requires a range of measures, which are not solely the domain of energy usage patterns and which may indicate behaviours considerably less sinister than theft. When theft is found, action needs to be proportionate to the circumstances. For example, a new tenant who is completely unaware of a doctored meter needs very different handling to a determined criminal for whom the full weight of remedial action must be reserved. Earlier this year, Ofgem set an obligation on gas suppliers to tackle gas theft and also directed them to establish a centralised hub of intelligent systems and processes for detecting, investigating and preventing gas theft. Ofgem is proposing the same approach to electricity theft. However, the responsibility for eradicating theft is not just the preserve of energy firms. Support is needed from government, trade bodies, public agencies, law enforcement and, above all, the general public. Lives are at risk. But working together, we can effectively tackle what is a significant issue that affects us all. Tony Thornton, head of energy delivery, Gemserv UTILITY WEEK | 18th - 24th October 2013 | 23 H

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