Flying connection-A A +A
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
NO MORE flying connections, please.
The electric cooperative is now dead serious in tightening the noose on the theft of electricity in Baguio City and Benguet. The management’s marching orders of late were to issue notices to those consumers found to be using electricity illegally and should the evidence warrants, there will be immediate disconnection.
And no treatment with kid gloves this time. Aside from asking the erring consumer to pay the fine, he will also be slapped with the appropriate criminal charge in court. Mind you, the anti-pilferage law imposes an imprisonment of prision mayor or six years and one day to 12 years. That’s heavy. Anyone convicted will not be entitled to probation. As of Jan. 17 this year, BENECO’s Consumer Services Department has already issued a final warning to close to a hundred households with flying connections. The households were given three days from receipt of the notice to rectify their illegal connections or else the electric cooperative will act accordingly. Here, we are just talking of flying connections.
This is because there are various ways of stealing electricity. There’s the use of the so called jumpers or any device that would divert the flow of electricity from passing through an electric meter to avoid the accurate recording of actual power consumed. Another is by direct connection, meaning one would directly tap power from secondary lines or service drops without authority from the electric cooperative. Electricity can also be stolen by unauthorized connection. This happens when a consumer decides on his own to reconnect a disconnected line. Relocating and changing of meters without authority are also punishable. Tampering is another. Considered as prima facie evidence of tampering are broken wire leads or seals, damaged glass or cover, tilted or unplugged meter, unwired or loose lines going to and from the meter, damaged meter, destroyed base or terminal and meters that have stopped operating.
The most common though is flying connection. This is the extension of electric lines from the house of a registered consumer to another house. Unfortunately, we are still swamped with queries asking if indeed flying connections are improper. Many believe that the move is legal since the house or residence that taps into the registered consumer has a meter anyway and the consumption is recorded and paid.
Well, that’s not the case. Every house which intends to avail of electricity must apply for a service connection. Part of the requirement is the inspection to be conducted by an electrical engineer. The inspection is crucial for reasons of safety. The nod from the engineer will be the go ahead signal that the house is ready for connection. A flying connection undermines this process. The unauthorized connection would compromise the house and the occupants’ safety. That’s why the law declared it illegal. But there are those who are really stubborn. The long arm of the law will catch them. They should not blame us later.
But of all the reasons for flying connection, this one bites. There are just too many requirements local government units require applicants for service connection to submit to the LGU before the LGU issues the certificate of final electrical inspection (CFEI). Please take note that BENECO only requires the submission of a CFEI and the electrical connection becomes ministerial. The CFEI though is secured from the LGU and not from BENECO. The LGU, on the other hand, will not issue the CFEI without the consumer submitting his or her building permit and occupancy permit. This is Calvary for consumers. The LGU though could not be entirely blamed. The building official would say that the LGU has also to impose what the law requires.
There’s a big legal issue there. But we will discuss it in the future. There’s one thing though that could be done to spare consumers from the temptation of a flying connection – amnesty. But that’s the prerogative of the local chief executive and the local legislative council.
I hope Mayor Domogan and Mayor Abalos are listening. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 30, 2013.