Beirut, Lebanon --- (METERING.COM) --- September 18, 2013 - Smart meters are to be piloted in Lebanon in a bid to crack down on electricity theft, the country’s Energy Ministry has been quoted as saying.

According to an article in the Beirut Daily Star, a 3,000 smart meter pilot will be conducted by the state utility Électricité du Liban, prior to a countrywide rollout of 1.2 million meters over a period of about 2 years.

A senior ministry official was quoted as saying: “The good thing about the smart meters is that they can be monitored from the command-and-control room and without the need to send bill collectors to examine these meters closely.”

However, he also referred to “foul play” by some part-time employees: “We don't want the bill collector to put the electricity consumption of each house the way he wants. Some people tamper with the old meters to show consumption below the actual amount used. These practices should come to an end and the smart meters are one way to do it.”

The Daily Star article says that electricity theft is major concern for EDL, costing around $300 million annually, and the company has tried in vain to combat these practices.

The article continues that the Energy Ministry has signed contracts with three service providers to improve electricity production, increase bill collection and drastically reduce waste and theft.

However, it states there are serious doubts that EDL and the three service providers will be able to complete the installation of the smart meters countrywide as “some areas consider themselves above the law” and may try to block them – particularly apparently where owners of private generators are involved.