Skunk labs costing energy consumers millions

Energy companies battling shifty cannabis criminals

Criminals who grow the powerful cannabis plant skunk using stolen electricity are costing Danish energy companies millions of kroner across the nation, often leading to higher bills for consumers.

According to Klaus Winther, the technical director of Energi Fyn, the energy company has had a total of 2.1 million kroner's worth of electricity stolen from them over the past two years.

”We are talking about considerable amounts of electricity and a million kroner theft,” Winther told DR Fyn. ”So we've had to really tighten up the ship.”

A court case began this week in Odense involving four Vietnamese nationals charged with growing skunk at five different labs in Funen and Jutland. Energi Fyn estimates they have stolen about 720,000 kroner worth of electricity.

Dong Energy, which supplies electricity to the capital region and north Zealand, is experiencing similar problems and is currently running cases concerning demands of three million kroner.

When the bills are unpaid, the cost is passed on to Danish energy consumers.

READ MORE: Police arrest six in drug ring

Consumes a lot of light and heat
One lab producing skunk, which comes from cannabis plants that demand lots of light and heat, typically consumes about 100,000 kWh – the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of about 25 homes.

The electricity can be stolen by breaking the electricity meter so that the dial gauge cannot turn. Alternatively the criminals force entry into the cable closet in the building where the skunk is grown and obtain the electricity independently of the meter using cables.

But the police and energy companies have got better at tracing electricity theft since they installed meters that can trace unusually large electricity consumption.