Bill imposes Sh1m fine on illegal power connections

Kenya Power staff during a crackdown on illegal connections in Nyalenda, Kisumu. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NMG
Kenya Power staff during a crackdown on illegal connections in Nyalenda, Kisumu. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NMG 

Homes and businesses making illegal power connections and disconnections will pay an increased minimum fine of Sh1 million if proposed changes to the law are adopted.

The stiffer fine included in the Energy Bill 2017, which was tabled in Parliament last week, also spells out a jail term of at least a year for the offenders.

This is an upgrade of the current law that has a maximum jail term of one year and capped the fines at Sh1 million, allowing the courts to impose penalties of as a little as Sh50,000 for those in breach.

The Bill, however, retains provisions that would allow Kenya Power to discontinue provision of electricity to homes found in contravention of the law.

“In any case where the person who commits an offence is the consumer, the licensee may also discontinue the supply of electrical energy to the premises of such consumer or abstain from resuming such supply,” says the proposed Bill.

The electricity distributor has previously said illegal connections cost as much as Sh1 billion in revenue leakages.

An October 2016 investigation by the Business Daily revealed that Kenyans were being swindled out of thousands of shillings by conmen making fake connections.

Following the exposé, Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC moved to arrest at least 60 people countrywide and brought them to court, mostly on charges of illegal connections.

In punishing electricity disconnections, the law would probably hit hard landlords that have the penchant to punish late payment of rent by cutting off the power, imposing illegal blackouts on tenants.

The higher penalties proposed in the Bill will also apply to consumers found using electricity for purposes other than what has been declared to Kenya Power — for instance, commercial users masquerading as residential users.

Electricity users found changing meters without the prior authorisation of Kenya Power and those that let their neighbors tap into their lines will face the same penalties.

The Energy Bill 2017 seeks to consolidate the regulatory framework in the sector by bringing together the Geothermal Resources Act and the Energy Act.

The bill is also meant to align penalties with current economic realities.
In addition to heavier punishments for people making illegal connections, the proposed law would also hit homeowners that hire unlicensed electricians to work on their properties.

“A consumer who permits a person who is not duly authorized as an electrical worker or contractor to carry out electrical installation work in his premises commits an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding [Sh50,000] or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or to both,” reads the bill.

Meanwhile those quack electricians will pay fines of up to Sh100,000 while licensed electricity providers that hire unlicensed electricians will pay a fine of up to sh1 million.