Fewer pot plantations broken up, but power theft rising

Last year 4,676 hemp farms were broken up that were connected to energy theft, Netbeheer Nederland announced today on behalf of all the regional grid managers. Their figures show that fewer cannabis plantations that were stealing electricity were broken up, but that more energy was stolen (140 million kWh in 2013 to 147 million kWh in 2014).

It is estimated that a total of nearly one billion kWh is annually stolen by illegal cannabis plantations. According to Netbeheer Nederland, that is equal to the energy that all the households in The Hague consume in one year. Nedbeheer Nederland is therefore advocating for the introduction of a fraud charge and compulsory ID when entering into a contract to prevent energy theft.

The fraud charge must ensure that an energy thief pays the same amount for their energy as an ordinary consumer. The mandatory identification will make it easier to recover the loss from energy theft from the right person. "These measures are essential to make energy theft in the Netherlands less attractive." says Peter Jans-Rat, chairman of the Platform Energy Theft of Netbeheer Nederland.

There have been cases in which people caught with an cannabis plantation have been forced to pay for the extra energy that was used in the plantation. In one such a case in 2013, Joost van Breukelen, an attorney specializing in criminal cases involving marijuana, said that the financial punishment is often the hardest part a cannabis-grower has to face after being caught.