Smart grid electric power technology has won over utilities around the world for its features that enable power companies to automatically maintain network stability, isolate and compensate for outages as well as merge low voltage renewable sources such as solar and wind energy seamlessly into the power supply.
Eletrobras, Brazil’s largest electric power utility, is turning to Siemens and its smart grid technology to solve a different but no less serious challenge: electricity theft. The company loses up to 22 percent of all the power it generates to businesses and residents who take energy without paying for it, either by diverting power clandestinely from power lines with illegal hook-ups or by manipulating their meters to show less than actual consumption.
Eletrobras, the largest utility in Latin America in terms of generation capacity, took a major step forward in April 2016 to combat theft when it created its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and opened its new Metering Intelligence Center (MIC) in the national capital, Brasilia. The company is counting on the MIC, which incorporates the Siemens Meter Data Management application running on the leading Smart Grid application platform EnergyIP, to root out electricity thieves, big and small, and recover some of the US$150 million in billings that the company estimates it is losing each year to electricity scofflaws.
A new metering intelligence center
The MIC is the centerpiece of a US$700 million project to combat non-technical losses, called Energia+ that partners Eletrobras with the World Bank. Known as a champion of projects that seek to speed social progress, the bank is financing the bulk of the project’s costs in the belief that reducing electricity thefts by half over the life of the project will lead to a faster and more equitable economic growth and benefit Brazilian society overall.