Smart meters paying-off for GPA - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Smart meters paying-off for GPA

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam Power Authority has lost $2 million in revenue since 1994 as a result of theft of utilities. Meter tampering and illegal hook-ups have plagued GPA for years, as internal auditor Maripaz Perez said, "Prior to the installation of smart meters GPA relied largely on tips received from the public and investigated each report of tampering. From January to August of last year GPA investigated 180 cases of tampering, in which 31 were confirmed as theft of utilities."

"Based on the statistics we have with the advent of the smart meters we have seen an increase in positive meter tampering investigations," she added.

Since the installation of smart meters GPA has investigated the same amount of meter tampering cases and has shown a 23% increase in confirmed tampering, meaning there were less false leads investigated. "With the advent of the smart meter the information of the smart meter is able to communicate to us that, 'Hey, I'm lost, come and find me', or 'Check me out', so that triggers us now to go out there timelier and we have data that we can look at," she said.

GPA reviews the data and compares the information to determine if it is an erratic instance or common occurrence and if not they investigate immediately, allowing GPA to catch tampering faster. When a tip is received, GPA sends out a field team to conduct the investigation. If confirmed, according to Arlene Sahagan, GPD is then contacted.

"The field process is that we would contact GPD and they would come over and take our report as far as theft of service incident that we found we would explain to them what our findings are," she said.

Theft of utilities is 3rd third degree felony and as GPD conducts their investigation into the case. GPA is busy documenting the findings, disconnecting the power and removing GPA equipment from the residence.

Over the years GPA field operators have come across creative ways some thieves have tried to alter the meters, from tin foil, and magnets, to attempts to destroy the meter with a hammer.

We should note that smart meters send transmissions to GPA regularly and any disruption or loss of communication is relayed to GPA making tampering with smart meters not a good choice.

To report meter tampering or illegal hook-up contact the GPA Hotline at 648-3199. All calls and reports are confidential.

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