Trade association Energy UK has insisted that not all of the focus should be placed on utilities to deal with energy theft and more efforts should be focused on apprehending criminals.
The comments come as regulator Ofgem closes its consultation which proposes a new licence condition whereby electricity suppliers have to be “more proactive at detecting, investigating and preventing theft”.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Power theft is costing customers £200m per year or £7 per customer per year so it’s important that suppliers do more to tackle theft.
“This is why we have proposed stronger licence conditions on suppliers to detect, prevent and investigate theft as well as obligations on suppliers to work together to help assess the risk of theft at premises.”
Ofgem is to put an obligation on gas suppliers to tackle theft and be more proactive in stamping it out his year and says it wants to place a similar license condition on electricity.
However, Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, argued that while suppliers had a part to play in reducing theft, the main focus should be on “catching those who bypass meters”.
“Ofgem is in danger of looking too much down the wrong end of the telescope on energy theft. Theft is theft and the main focus should be on catching those who bypass meters, particularly when they use the electricity for criminal activity like growing cannabis,” she said.
A spokesperson for Ofgem told Utility Week: “We are not saying suppliers are doing a bad job at the moment it is just that the obligation will mean that they will have to step up to make sure that they are doing more to tackle theft.”