From trash-lined alleys in Detroit to upscale West Bloomfield Township to the Upper Peninsula, energy theft is on the rise. More than $100 million worth of electrical power and natural gas is stolen each year, according to DTE Energy. The culprits are state property owners and landlords, and residents who just can’t pay their bills.
Those of us who do pay our utility bills are the victims, since DTE Energy passes on the losses to ratepayers in the form of higher rates.
Nationwide, utility companies are reporting rising incidents of energy theft they say reflects the nation’s economic downturn. Electric Light & Power magazine reports that the theft of power by customers costs utilities about $6 billion industry-wide each year.
Since the economic downturn started in 2008, DTE has been investigating 80,000 to 100,000 energy theft complaints each year.
In the Detroit area, about 90 percent of the illegal hookups are residential homes, 40 percent of them vacant properties. Rental housing, gas stations, auto repair shops, convenience stores and restaurants are among the most common businesses that steal electricity.
DTE attempts to work with those customers who have true affordability issues, connecting them with federal and state energy assistance programs. In addition, through outreach programs, churches and community organizations, DTE Energy spends about $119 million (partly from ratepayer donations) in aid to those needing help with energy costs.
To report suspected energy theft, call DTE Energy at 800-441-6698.
Oak Electric Service is one of southeast Michigan’s leading electrical contractors and a DTE Energy Preferred provider. We are standing by to answer all of your residential and commercial electrical questions. Give us a call at (800) 964-7070. We will always personally answer your phone call – you will never reach an answering service! Be sure to ask about our “Free Electrical Safety Inspection.” We invite you to visit our website at www.oakelectric.com to learn more about us.