Papua New Guinea
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Over 28,000 illegal electricity customers registered

More than 28,000 illegal electricity consumers have registered with PNG Power Limited (PPL) as of August, 2023 with more anticipated as the campaign enters its next phase.

This was made possible through the Amnesty Initiative run by the United States Agency for International Development’s Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership (USAID-PEP) in partnership with PNG Power.

The program allows for the illegal customers to register in PPL’s billing system without incurring any penalties.

An important component of the Amnesty Initiative is the development of a “payment culture” for electricity services.

PPL Amnesty Project Lead, Stanley Mark said many illegal consumers feared PPL and the police as they know that the penalty for electricity theft is severe.

He said during this amnesty period, they are willingly coming forward to register and pay the minimum fees.

“Illegal consumers flock in to register when we are out in the settlements.

“They need electricity and are cooperative under this program,” Mr Mark said.

Currently, only about 15 per cent of people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have access to electricity, through either grids or mini-grids, a situation that can be attributed to the country’s rugged terrain and relative lack of economic development.

PNG’s power distribution network run by PNG Power Limited (PPL) has long suffered from significant technical and commercial losses, stemming from the poor condition of the network and more than 100,000 non-paying households and businesses connected illegally to the grid.

Under the Amnesty Initiative, customers are billed a monthly fixed rate by PPL depending not on their electricity use, but on the size of their premises.

At some future date, when economic circumstances permit, PPL will install individual meters at these customer locations and calculate the appropriate tariffs.

In the meantime, the utility will benefit from the additional fixed revenue, which it can deploy to make new connections.

The Amnesty Initiative was originally launched in Port Moresby on February 2022. In 2023, PPL and USAID-PEP have expanded the campaign to other cities such as Lae, Mt. Hagen, Goroka and Kokopo.