Johannesburg, South Africa --- (METERING.COM) --- April 4, 2008 – Electricity consumers in South Africa have voiced their dissatisfaction with the levels of service they are receiving from Eskom, which is responding to an energy crisis by load shedding and asking for swingeing hikes in tariffs – but the utility points out that energy theft is exacerbating its problems.

Revenue theft comes in several forms – illegal connections to the grid, theft of copper cabling, and billing and metering errors. Eskom estimates that non-technical losses in the previous financial year amounted to R1 billion ($12.8 million).

Given the fact that demand in the country often exceeds supply, the illegal connections represent a particular problem, as they result in system instability and overloading. Eskom has instituted several measures to limit the amount of electricity stolen, with some success in certain areas, and has also introduced a program that encourages users to report instances of theft. The utility points out that honest customers are ‘subsidizing’ those guilty of stealing electricity, as the tariff charged has an allowance that covers both commercial and non-commercial losses.