You are here

US company's BRIC arm plans Brazil’s biggest smart grid to stop power theft

Brazil’s Eletropaulo of US firm AES will install 60,000 meters using wireless technology to remotely monitor power consumption in BRIC country

Smart meters will be installed to monitor electricity usage in all residential, commercial and industrial buildings in Barueri, a Sao Paulo suburb in Brazil

The arm of a US firm has announced plans to develop Brazil's biggest smart grid to curb power theft, according to reports. Eletropaulo Metropolitana de Eletricidade de Sao Paulo SA, Brazil's biggest power distributor by market value, will invest BRL 72m (USD 36m) through to 2015 in the project, which aims to help stop the problem of electricity theft in the BRIC country, Bloomberg reports.

Eletropaulo, which is the Brazilian arm of US power project firm AES Corp (AES), will install 60,000 meters that use wireless technology to remotely monitor power consumption. They will monitor electricity usage in all residential, commercial and industrial buildings in Barueri, a Sao Paulo suburb, president Britaldo Pedrosa Soares stated at an event announcing the project, Bloomberg said.

The wireless devices will let Eletropaulo identify clients that are stealing power and cut them off remotely, without sending employees to check meters in person, Soares said. The AES unit, which loses 3.8 per cent of its power to thieves, expects the meters to pay for themselves in about eight years. The company said it also plans to build up similar projects in the BRIC country in the future.

"We did all the studies and this investment made sense," Sidney Simonaggio, vice president of operations at Eletropaulo, said, Bloomberg reports. "The idea is to replicate this project in other areas."

Eletropaulo, based in Sao Paulo, will invest BRL 37m from funds it's required under Brazilian law to spend on research and development. The rest will come from a rate increase that will be determined later.

Eletropaulo hasn't decided what technology to use. It will announce by the end of June the required technical specifications and plans to begin installing meters next year, which will let customers manage their power consumption. The company will also install a basic model designed to detect theft for about 2,100 low-income families starting in June.

The smart grid news from AES follows other projects involving US firms to advance the sector in Brazil over the last year. In October 2012, Chicago smart grid firm S&C Electric announced it will use its smart grid technology to replace underground distribution switchgear at Cemig Distribuição SA, a leading energy distribution company in the BRIC country.