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Electricity Theft and Bitcoin Mining are a Growing Issue for Malaysian Utilities

Malaysian power utilities lost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2021 due to electricity theft by bitcoin miners, but one business hopes to change that. Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s utility regulator, has come up with two ways to stop people from stealing electricity for cryptocurrency mining.

In order to combat electricity theft, the utility company’s latest plan considers imposing a specific charge on Bitcoin mining operators. As another idea, it was suggested that the energy regulator encourage Bitcoin miners to get a valid electricity supply license.

Illegal cryptocurrency mining has increased in Malaysia’s Tenaga since 2018. This tendency, according to President and CEO Bahrain Din, is projected to continue. It’s not illegal to mine in Malaysia, but some miners try to get power by changing meter installations or bypassing the meter entirely to make an illegal connection.

Tenaga has been collaborating with police, the Energy Commission, local governments, and Malaysia’s anti-corruption industry to capture electricity thieves, particularly among Bitcoin miners. So far, eighteen people have been arrested for stealing $550 million in electricity.

Using Technology to Combat Electricity Theft

According to Paul Lim Pay Chuan, a senior executive at Pestech Internation Bhd, an electrical power business, technology can also be used to combat theft. According to Chuan, smart metering, meter data management systems, and digital power quality products will provide vital information on power supply and demand, allowing for better monitoring, control, and planning of the entire power system. As a result, the incidence of theft will be reduced.

In 2021, Eleven Malaysian Sites Were Raided

Sarawak Energy, on the island of Borneo, whose northern sections are ruled by Malaysia and Brunei, raided a location in Miri in July 2021 after three homes burned down due to $2 million in electricity theft. More than a thousand bitcoin mining machines were destroyed in the process. The raid in Miri was one of 11 that took place in Malaysia in 2021. Anyone found to be involved in the theft of electricity by interfering with Tenga’s equipment might face a fine of up to RM100,000 or a prison sentence of up to ten years in prison.

Because of the exponential rise in the price of digital assets, there has been a surge in mining activity, which is inherently energy-intensive. It has been estimated by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance that Malaysia contributes more than 4.5 percent of the world’s mining capacity.