Eskom piloting various technologies to combat electricity theft

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Electricity theft is a big headache not only for power utility, Eskom, but for residents as well. To help combat this, Eskom is deploying a number of technologies it’s testing out.

Eskom is piloting the use of Remote Access Terminals (RATs) and Data Concentrators in a number of locations across the country.

These are meant to allow Eskom technicians to remotely disconnect or reconnect power supply to any specific customer without physically going to the power supply point.

“They play an important role in ensuring the safety of our staff when they have to do disconnections in dangerous areas because such operations can now be conducted from the safety of their office. The technology also enables us to quickly reconnect customers who have paid a fine because the technician does not have to physically drive to the point of supply to effect the reconnection,” said Dileep John, Eskom’s Energy and Revenue Losses Manager.

A new computer programme that will allow technicians to remotely monitor power usage at individual household level to detect irregular usage patterns, which  can be an indication of inefficient usage by the customer or even a sign of electricity theft, has also been developed by  visualisation laboratory at the Eskom Research, Testing and Innovation Centre.

“Once completed, the new programme, which uses visualisation technology, will enable technicians to compare electricity usage among customers in any suburb or even in a townhouse complex to identify those whose usage is unusually high.
“A comparatively high consumption rate is a common tell-tale sign of electricity theft because people who do not pay for the electricity use tend to be wasteful in their usage,” John said.
“As electricity thieves are relentless in the pursuit of their illegal activity, our research and development team continues to develop, test and implement new technologies to ensure we stay ahead of the criminals and are able to deliver a world-class service to our customers,” he added.
Eskom has continued to implore consumers to report any electricity theft.