Families at risk as hundreds tamper with gas meters
BORD Gais has been forced to launch a national safety campaign after discovering that hundreds of people had tampered with their gas meters.
The grid operator is spearheading an awareness initiative to highlight the serious safety issues of adjusting natural gas meters in homes.
The radio, poster, leaflet and online campaign focuses on rising reports of meter tempering, particularly in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Louth, Meath and Kildare.
More than 500 incidents have been detected since last September, resulting in three criminal convictions in the capital, with four others pending in Munster.
Those convicted of an offence under sections of the Energy Act will be liable to pay a fine of up to €5,000 and could face a six-month prison term.
The campaign delivers hard-hitting messages on dangers and the risks of prosecution and provides details on how to confidentially report known or suspected incidents.
Bord Gais Networks, which is actively involved in identifying and making safe tampered installations, hopes that its new campaign will stamp out the problem.
Owen Wilson, head of safety with Bord Gais Networks, said: "By tampering with a meter, people are not just putting their own safety at risk, but the safety of their families, neighbours and the general public.
"The consequences could be costly or even fatal.
"By law, only Bord Gais Networks representatives are authorised to work on natural gas meters and it is illegal to either ask, pay or allow someone else to tamper with your meter."
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) welcomed the safety initiative.
Paul McGowan, CER Commissioner, said: "It is vitally important that people contact Bord Gais Networks if they have any information about illegal meter tampering."
As part of the campaign, a range of frequently asked questions on meter tampering is answered online and the option to report confidentially is also available.
The Bord Gais Networks Revenue Protection Unit was established in September 2013 to identify and investigate cases of alleged unlawful interference with Bord Gais Networks equipment and to refer these cases, as appropriate, for prosecution under the Energy Act 2012.