utility
Image credit: Stock

Colombia’s energy regulator Creg has drafted proposals for a rollout of smart metering across the national electricity system.

The proposals, which are currently under consultation, aim to achieve 75% coverage corresponding to about 11.8 million out of the 15.7 million customers connected to the National Interconnected System (SIN) by 2030.

Creg’s background document states that the decision to implement advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in the SIN is a matter of public policy with the objectives of improving the provision of service, optimising the commercialisation and distribution activities and delivering additional functionalities to customers.

Creg in drafting the guidelines reviewed various models that have been implemented across the world, noting that the experience has been diverse, both in terms of the models adopted and in the results obtained. However, a common element is the relevance of the information that results from the AMI.

Related articles:
New electricity operators in Colombia’s Caribbean region
Smart grid development post-COVID-19 in Latin America

Creg’s preferred deployment approach, drawing on comments and work from earlier studies and cost-benefit analyses, is essentially a hybrid of the network operator approach implemented in various European countries and the centralised data approach of the UK.

The network operators will be responsible for installing the smart meters and for meter reading. Cost recovery is via the avoided costs of manual meter reading that will result along with efficiencies in commercialisation activities.

Data is centralised with the creation of a new independent central data management body, GIDI (Gestor de Independiente de Datos e Información). The network operators will supply the data to the GIDI, where it will be available for access by third parties such as service users, market players and control entities.

Remuneration for the GIDI will accrue through a new component in the tariff, taking account of the cost savings of the network operators.

The estimated cost of the rollout is Co$6.78 billion (US$2 million) over 10 years, of which $6.22 billion is capex and $0.56 billion is opex.

AMI benefits

Short term benefits are expected to include a reduction in meter reading costs and savings due to remote suspension and reconnection of supply. In the medium term, benefits should accrue through a reduction of technical losses and improvements in energy quality.

Longer term, possible benefits include a reduction in the price of energy with hourly tariffs, reduction of non-technical losses, deferral of investments in distribution infrastructure and savings in energy purchase costs due to lower average consumption.

Creg says that its regulation enables the achievement of the objectives of public policy and those established in law for the national electricity service. The deployment scheme proposed, while approaching the government’s goals, allows for acceleration as it progresses and additional benefits are identified, enabling greater deployment in the medium and long term.

Creg does not provide a timeline for reviewing comments and publishing its final guideline, but given the 2030 scope of the proposed rollout, will likely expedite these activities in the coming months.