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Albania Launches Drive Against Power Thieves

7 November 2014

NEWS 29 OCT 14

Albania has launched an operation to stamp out electricity theft, which costs the cash-strapped Balkan country an estimated 150 million euro every year.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN

Tirana

Damian Gjiknuri | Photo by LSA

Inspectors from Albania’s electricity distribution company, OSHEE, aided by police, have launched a massive operation to ascertain illegal connections to the grid.

The government says that those found stealing electricity will be prosecuted, following changes to the criminal code, which raised the penalties for electricity theft.

“This operation will expand on a wide scale across Albania, and, day after day, we will report concrete cases of people who are abusers,” the Minister of Energy, Damian Gjiknuri, said in a statement.

“Folllowing the changes made to the criminal code, our goal is to target that group of people who are stealing electricity for profit,” he added.

According to OSHEE, electricity theft is worth almost 150 million euro every year, forcing the government to subsidize the corporation with budget funds.

The campaign comes as Edi Rama’s centre-left government moves to raise the price of electricity for consumers, a request that the Energy Regulatory Agency, ERE, is expected to approve.

In a statement, the head of OSHEE, Arben Seferi, said the campaign would first target businesses that steal electricity and then target illicit smaller-scale consumers.

“In cooperation with the police, we are going to stamp out electricity theft once and for all,” Seferi said.

“We have always focused on businesses but the family customer who is also an abuser won’t be forgotten,” he warned.

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