Electricity Theft Costs Us All, Not Worth the Risk

Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department teamed up to produce a video warning of the dangers of power theft.

Seattle City Light's Peter Clarke shoots the energy theft video with Firefighter Leo Castaneda.

Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department teamed up to produce a video warning of the dangers of power theft. 

Tampering with electric meters to reduce bills or hide high electricity consumption is dangerous and illegal. The video is a public service announcement to begin playing on the Seattle Channel, cable channel 21, and on various Internet video streaming sites.

City Light loses an estimated $3 million each year from stolen power. Those losses mean higher costs for other rate payers. The Seattle Fire Department has fought fires caused by attempts to steal power, and deaths have been reported in other cities related to meter tampering.

“We all lose when someone tries to steal electricity,” City Light Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said. “If you believe someone is trying to steal power, let us know.”  

Power theft is a crime prosecuted by the King County Prosecutors Office. City Light also levies penalty fees of up to $500 against those found to be stealing power on top of fees for damaged equipment and the costs of repairing altered wiring service. 

Tampering with a power meter is not only dangerous to those doing it, but also to surrounding neighbors. The public service announcement features firefighter Leo Castaneda and City Light meter reader Colin Tudor warning about those dangers. The video also provides a phone number for people to call — (206) 684-4259 — if they suspect someone is stealing power. The video may be viewed on demand at http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=6119

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.