Using Aerial Infrared Thermography to Detect Utility Theft of Service

Using Aerial Infrared Thermography to Detect Utility Theft of Service

Gregory R. Stockton & Gillem Lucas, P.E.
RecoverIR Inc., 1580 Millpond Land, Lincoln, CA 95648

ABSTRACT

Natural gas and electric utility companies, public utility commissions, consumer advocacy groups, city governments, state governments and the federal government United States continue to turn a blind eye towards utility energy theft of service which we conservatively estimate is in excess of $10 billion a year. Why? Many in the United States have exhausted their unemployment benefits. The amounts for federal funding for low income heating assistance programs (LIHEAP) funds were cut by nearly 40% for 2012 to $3.02 billion. “At peak funding ($5.1 billion in 2009), the program was national in scale but still only had enough resources to support roughly 1/4 of the eligible households. ” Contributions to charities are down and the number of families below the poverty line who are unable to pay to heat their houses continues to rise. Many of the less fortunate in our society now consider theft and fraud to be an attractive option for their supply of natural gas and/or electricity. A record high mild winter in 2011-2012 coupled with 10-year low natural gas prices temporarily obscured the need for low income heating assistance programs (LIHEAPs) from the news and federal budgets, but cold winters will return.

The proliferation of smart meters and automated meter infrastructures across our nation can do little to detect energy theft because the thieves can simply by-pass the meters, jumper around the meters and/or steal meters from abandoned houses and use them. Many utility systems were never set-up to stop these types of theft. Even with low-cost per identified thief method using aerial infrared thermography, utilities continue to ignore theft detection.

Keywords: Infrared, Thermal Imaging, Thermography, Aerial Infrared, Gas Thieves, Electricity Thieves, Energy Thieves, Thermal Analysis, Repeat Offenders

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