Cannabis Farms Send Stolen Electricity up in Smoke

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July 4 (Bloomberg) -- Mark Wiltsher, head of media & stakeholder engagement at OFGEM, discusses the high level of electricity theft in the U.K. by cannabis farms and new rules in place to crack down on the practice. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "The Pulse."

The industry reckons about a third of the 200 million pounds of electricity that is stolen each year goes to cannabis farms.

We also have verification of the size of this from the police.

The police are catching about 8000 of these cannabis farms a year.

That figure has doubled over the last four years.

I think the problem -- what is often proposed is a new set of rules for energy suppliers so they can crack down more effectively on electricity theft.

I am not asking for a manual.

But how do you steal electricity?

Good question.

We are not going to explain how you do it, but broadly speaking you either bypass the meter or you tamper with the meter.

What off -- what they are proposing is the industry sets up a national risk assessment service to cover the whole country that will allow suppliers to better cull intelligence, better identify people who are doing this.

Cannabis growing it seems is incredibly intensive.

You do it inside, but you need light.

That is correct.

Obviously the police are there to crack down on illegal activity.

What we want to do is make sure -- we need to give credit to the industry.

The industry catches 25,000 people a year stealing electricity.

What we are developing with the industry is a framework that will hopefully allow suppliers to crack down harder on the people who are stealing electricity.

What does this to to my electricity bill?

On average it answer -- adds seven pounds to your electricity bill.

That is why we they are keen to make sure electricity theft is tackled as effectively as possible.

Who wants -- we want to see a fair energy market for consumers.

It is not fair of people are paying for stolen electricity.

Fascinating story.

Thank you very much for joining us.

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