PNG Power Ltd (PPL) is sending a message to its customers in Port Moresby city that theft of electricity will be seriously dealt with, even if it means laying charges on the offenders.
This was demonstrated yesterday afternoon when a foreign business owner was taken in for questioning by police upon PNG Power’s request after the business owner was alleged to have stolen electricity from PNG Power by tempering with a power meter box at his shop located at the Hohola suburb.
PNG Power General Manager Retail, Mr. Kingston Albert, said the bust yesterday is part of the state-owned company’s exercise to recoup money lost to illegal collections and outstanding bills through its’ mass disconnection exercise, which will eventually roll out to the rest of the country.
“This is mostly because of our cashflow situation, and we as a company know how much energy we produce and how much equivalent revenue we supposed to take. There is a big difference between what we produce and what we collect from our customers,” said the general manager.
Albert said as part of this massive exercise PPL is conducting what he said is the Revenue Protection Initiative, which basically is going from house to house checking all installations set up by PNG Power across the country, starting with Port Moresby city.
It was through this that the business owner was taken in for questioning by police after it was revealed to PNG Power technicians that something illegal was done at his premises that resulted in him paying less than the expected bill for the usage of the electricity service.
“We have come across a lot, about eight hundred major customers whom we suspect and have been monitoring this over the last five to six months and we have targeted the first eighty to correct those illegal activities that are happening.”
“So, if you talk about PPL not making money, that is where our money is going. We are trying our best with the limited resources that we have to recoup the money we lost,” he said.
The general manager said so far PNG power has corrected eleven customers already through this exercise and with that recouped about a quarter of a million Kina. That money should go to such things as investing in equipment and power infrastructure in the country, which will then lead to better electricity service and connectivity to most parts of the country.
“So, we want to set this as an example to all the businesses and operators in PNG who are stealing power, that PNG Power will come one day, and they will have to pay the bill that rightfully should be paid as this money will be used to rehabilitate or refurbish our equipment and infrastructure so that Papua New Guineans can live with consistent and reliable power provided to them.”
Lastly, the general manager made an appeal to PNG Power customers who are doing illegal connections or not paying up their bills to stop and work with them to ensure a safe and proper connection to this vital service.