SPRING HILL — Christopher Soults, 30, has been charged with grand theft after stealing $18,826 worth of energy for almost four years from Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, Hernando County sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies last week went to Soults’ home at 4500 Elwood St. and met Tim Cox, a WREC employee, who was there to shut off the power because Soults had not paid his bill. After Cox disconnected the power he still heard an air-conditioner running at the rear of the home. He then called the sheriff’s office.
Deputies found two breaker boxes in the garage and the air-conditioner wired to the breaker, bypassing the outside meter. Wiring had been dismantled on the roof, sheriff’s officials said, and wires were spliced together illegally to provide power without being picked up by the meter.
Soults told deputies he moved into the home in July 2010 and did some renovating but was unaware of anything being done with the meter or breaker boxes.
Deputies contacted WREC employee Gary Steele, who had printouts showing energy consumption at the home, starting with the partial month when Soults moved in four years ago. The invoices totaled about $18,826. Steele estimated an average of 54 kilowatt hours stolen per day for each day since July 2010, according to a sheriff’s report.
Soults was taken to the Hernando County Jail and given a court date and a bail amount of $2,000.