Fires break out due to power theft


Dangerous consequences: Cryptocurrency mining machines and servers destroyed in the Sibu fire.

SIBU: Overloading and illegal electricity connections have led to two premises catching fire recently.

One of them, which was located at Jalan Pedada here, operated a cryptocurrency mining centre, said Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB).

The fire was due to illegal electricity connections.

“This incident in Sibu is estimated to have cost Sarawak Energy over RM273,000 in stolen electricity over the course of 12 months,” it said.

Despite numerous reminders to individuals and businesses not to steal electricity, SEB said that this had continued and that such offenders were endangering the lives of others.

Prior to this, another cryptocurrency mining centre located at Saberkas Commercial Centre in Miri also caught fire due to the same reason.

The electricity provider conducted emergency power supply shutdowns after firefighters received a distress call during the two separate fire incidents.

“The fires are believed to have been caused by illegal connections and overloaded circuits. Sarawak Energy’s technical crew discovered direct tapping cables hidden in the wall, bypassing the meter and connected to the incoming main wiring,” it said.

Around 100 cryptocurrency mining servers were destroyed at both locations.

SEB warned that electricity theft could result in serious consequences, such as short circuits, fires, damage to appliances and loss of life.

Cryptocurrency mining usually requires a large amount of electricity to power the servers. And with long operating hours, cooling units are needed to prevent overheating.

SEB’s meter inspection teams are trained to detect various electricity theft methods, including tampered meters, fake electricity meter covers, and underground direct tapping.

With the use of smart meters, all power theft attempts can be detected and disconnected remotely.

The company is working with the Sarawak’s Utility and Telecommunication Ministry, the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in its fight against electricity theft.

It advised landlords to exercise caution and due diligence when renting out their properties to protect themselves from any illegal activities carried out by their tenants.

Meters should be registered under the tenant’s name to avoid the risk of liability in cases of electricity theft.

According to SEB, the public should not be taken in by those who claim to help reduce electricity costs through meter tampering.

Those caught stealing electricity will be charged under Section 33 (5) of the Electricity Ordinance, with penalties of up to RM100,000 and/or five years in jail.

Those with information about power theft should contact SEB’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email customercare@sarawakenergy.com.


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