Homer, AK – On December 17, 2021, Homer Electric Association (HEA) filed a complaint with the Homer District Court against Sterling resident Max Finch for power theft. As stated in HEA’s complaint, Finch is the owner and operator of Alaska Canoe and Campground, and RV park and campground located at 35292 Sterling Highway. Starting in 2014, Finch took electric service from HEA by tapping into an underground service wire and feeding electric current into his business.
Keriann Baker, Director of Member Relations, stated, “HEA is committed to aggressively pursuing cases of power theft. This case isn’t just about taking power from HEA for his own use, it is about protecting our members and taking steps to keep electric rates down. The cost of power theft is born by every HEA member.”
Finch was previously fined by HEA in 2013 for tampering with two of its meters that also caused three transformers to blow up. In this current case, Finch utilized a different method to take electricity from HEA by using a wiretap to bypass the property meter. HEA has calculated the value of the electricity taken by Finch with the wiretap, since 2014, to be more than $325,000. Under Alaska statutes, any person who is found to have tampered with a utility meter or tapped into a utility line are liable to pay the utility three times the value of the electricity illegally taken.
Finch’s wiretapping was discovered when HEA linemen noticed some disturbances in the ground near HEA’s transformer pole and a wire coming out of the ground. Upon further testing, HEA was able to locate where Finch had tapped into HEA’s service lines.
“We have been implementing programs to more effectively find and detect cases of power theft, including providing training to our linemen to spot possible signs of wiretapping or meter tampering,” said Baker, “This case was a fairly sophisticated setup and HEA is grateful to have talented linemen who were able to identify the theft while performing other work on Finch’s property.”
Power theft increases the electric costs of every other HEA member. But more importantly, it can lead to serious injury or death from electric shock, fires, and explosions. If you suspect a case of power theft, please report it to HEA immediately.