Getting Juiced

From Scout:

Desperate people take desperate measures. From the Times Picayune……

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tired of waiting in the dark for the lights to come back on, Walter Vine took matters into his own hands: He unscrewed his electrical meter and rigged it to bring power into his flood-damaged home.

Vine, a building contractor, broke the law and risked serious injury or death. But like so many others in this hurricane-ravaged city, he figured it was the only way to avoid the red tape and hair-pulling frustration so many have faced in trying to get their electricity restored.

“People cannot possibly do this by the book and stay in the city,” said Vine, who lives a block from one of the city’s former mayors in the upper-middle-class Broadmoor neighborhood.

Five months after Katrina plunged New Orleans into darkness, roughly 124,000 homes and businesses — or more than 66 percent of the city’s structures — still have no electricity, according to the utility, Entergy New Orleans.

The really frustrating part is that since December, power has been restored to 90 percent of the electrical grid — and the street lights are back on in many neighborhoods — yet only one-third of homeowners can draw juice into their homes.

SNIP

The meter-riggers are not getting the electricity for free. “Even if a customer has illegally connected himself, the meter is still spinning and we can still get a read on their usage,” said Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde.