Aneel – Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency – considers as non-technical losses, among other factors, the measurement errors, deficiencies in the invoicing process, lack of measurer in consumers, frauds and power robbery. The fraud in the power system is an act committed by a consumer violating the measurement system to get a consumption register lower than his/her real use, as long as the robbery is practiced by someone who is not a costumer but he/she is illegally connected to the network to receive power.
Additionally, according to study of the regulatory agency, the region that presented the higher level of irregular consumption was the Northern region, with 20% of the power distributed, followed by the Southeastern region, with 10%, and Northeastern region, with 9%. At the Midwestern region, the percentage was 5%, and at the Southern, 3%.
The End of Irregular Connections
Many utilities have been used innovative technologies to prevent fraud in the power system. One of them is CPFL Energia that, with the smart meters deploy and the crossing of data analysis, reached a 90% hit level in problem identification. The new smart data crossing methodology was initially applied to Group A customers (big power consumers such as factories), later extended to Group B customers (residential customers). The initiative supported CPFL Energia to recover 372 GWh of power, enough to meet the annual feed of 146 thousand residential customers.
According to the utility, acting in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Parana and Minas Gerais, the presence of smart meters is essential to this frauds combat program, since they make possible to access technical data on the consumption that, when analyzed and crossed with the customer’s profile, and combined to artificial intelligence platforms, show the problems existence or not. With this result, an inspection staff is assigned to make an investigation at the place, verifying if it’s a technical problem or if the power measurement has been acted of fraud.
Celpe – Pernambuco State Energetic Company – is also relying in a remote monitoring system to reduce the frauds incidence in the power system. In some cases, to find cases of robbery, drones fly over the areas with higher incidence of irregular installations.
In more “sophisticated” cases of fraud, such as the ones detected in industries and big retailers, the investigation is made through remote monitoring, with smart meters installed at the high of the power poles. The information on the power consumption of that customer are sent to a measure center where analysts cross the data and analyze the history of the place monitored.
Besides installing the smart meter at the pole, Celpe also delivers a display to the customer for monitor his/her own consumption.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, Light utility, which attend 31 cities, has invested in the installation of electronic meters since 2010, and up to the first quarter of 2017, they have already installed 900 thousand devices. According to the concessionary, besides not increasing the value of the bill, the technology brings many benefits to the customer, as a faster service and safety to the communities.
First of all, a device broadcasts real time information such as interruptions and recovery of the supplying directly to Light Measurement Control Center – CCM, in the Portuguese acronym – speeding up the service. Next, the electronic meter is an important tool to prevent power robbery, once it is difficult to violate and able to automatically detect possible irregularities.
When there are many power robberies in a same place, the excessive use of electric power in a same cable, and even in the network transformer, can raise the risk of fire spreading all over the block.
Smart and Connected Meters
The smart meters can be formed by two components: the measurement device, connected between the utility branch and the customer’s power input, and a device at the customer’s, with a display that shows your consumption. For utilities, the smart meters allow to identify problems, reduce loss and prevent fraud. However, for the residential customer, the information on the consumption help to choose a better time for using certain household appliances and program the use of power out of the peak time when the fee is higher.
The measurement automation system offered by Atech, along with the smart meters, allows to monitor each customer’s consumption profile. At the irregularities terminal, the system allows creating rules for detecting a possible fraud in the power system, faster in the analysis and information management, allowing to follow the consumption and the demand minute by minute through reports and performance indexes.