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Power play



No one should underestimate the power of electricity.

A 14-year-old boy from Naga City, Camarines Sur realized this too late when he recently tried to steal power cables in Barangay Concepcion Pequeña. The boy climbed a tree along Apo Drive and pulled what he thought were loose cables from an electric post.

Bystanders warned the boy, but he ignored them and pulled the live wire leading to his electrocution and death.

Another boy was clever enough in literally handling electricity.

Jhentrix Castillo, 17, of Barangay Cabuloan in Bangued, Abra was shown in a video letting electric sparks touch his hands without getting grounded or shocked. In the video, Castillo proves that the sparks that look like miniature lightning is alternating current as the fluorescent bulb he is holding lights up.

In a TV interview, Castillo explained that he generated the electricity using a Tesla coil he assembled using a transformer sourced from a junk shop, salt water, glass jar, foil and nails. The device is a recreation of Serbian-American Nikola Tesla’s invention that can remotely power electric lights and appliances without running the electricity through cable wires.

The Tesla coil may be a solution to the lack of electricity in remote areas that could not be reached even by rural electrification. It is economical and practical as conduction cables and posts are not necessary.

If making a Tesla coil is not possible, there are two other ways to obtain free-flowing electricity. Residents at an apartment complex and homes in Humble, Spring, and Katy in Houston, Texas, USA, did just that over a three-month period last year.

The said residents, all customers of seven electric companies serving Houston, were said to have consumed more than $4,000 worth of electricity, but it was a guy named Craig Kooken who was billed in November for the entire power usage.

The customers turned out to be fraudsters who registered with the utility firms using Kooken’s social security number. It only requires a name and social security number to open an electric account with most utility companies. The distribution companies apparently did not do background checks and verification of the said residents’ registration details, according to the US Public Utility Commission.

In India, three jeans factories in Ulhasnagar, Maharashtra State had another way of getting free electricity.

Factory owners Arjun Chaurasia, Ramesh Lalwani and Ayub Nawab Khan used electricity worth more than P500,000, but it was the utility firm Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. that shouldered their electric bills. The first two factory owners mentioned used the electric meters of Lavkush Kushwaha and Vijay Wadhel to divert electricity to their plants.

The utility firm found that the factory owners and power users drilled holes in the back of the meter box to steal electricity. The five culprits are now facing electric theft charges.

WJG @tribunephl_wjg