HomeDigitalizationEletrobras, Siemens and World Bank to target electricity theft

Eletrobras, Siemens and World Bank to target electricity theft

Eletrobras, the largest utility in Latin America, is teaming up with Siemens and the World Bank in a project aimed at defeating energy theft.

The trio’s project is called Energia+ and uses advanced smart metering infrastructure to foil the thefts. Their goal is a 50 per cent reduction of theft losses over the next six years.

The company has created an 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$150m in billings that the company estimates it is losing each year.

It amounts to losses of up to 22 per cent of all the power it generates to businesses and residents who take energy without paying for it, either by diverting power from power lines with illegal hook-ups or manipulating meters to show less than actual consumption.

The US$700m project is being heavily backed by the World Bank motivated by the aim of reducing electricity thefts by half over the life of the project leading to a faster and more equitable economic growth to benefit Brazilian society overall.

Important elements of the anti-theft system are the 120,000 so-called “smart meters” that include Siemens technology and that send data via digital communications directly to the center for analysis. In addition to detecting anomalies in electricity use that could indicate electricity theft, the Siemens MDM solution (EnergyIP + EIP NTL) platform is fully integrated with Eletrobras’ billing and management systems to ensure reliable energy billing to their consumers.

Because of the extent of the problem, Eletrobras has struggled to generate the revenue to modernise and monitor its system up until this point.

The high percentage of Eletrobras losses to electricity theft has a number of negative consequences. First, honest rate payers end up paying for the thieves since about 40 percent of the revenue losses caused by thefts are simply charged back to the rate base.

Another negative impact is that the improvised illegal connections are often health hazards and cause fires. And since the thieves make no effort to conserve electricity, they needlessly increase the system’s need for more generation capacity. As a result, electricity thefts work against social goals of preserving the environment and reducing carbon emissions.

Over the six-year duration of the project, the money will finance installation of at least 120,000 smart meters, a new generation of virtually tamper-proof measuring devices that “talk” or send data directly to the Measuring Intelligence Center in Brasilia.