By Brent Hughes, Consultant, MBH Consulting
Transformer metering and recently developed theft analytics provide a dramatic new capability to use AMI meter data to detect, locate and characterize virtually all energy theft without field investigations. It provides a continuous, system-wide view of theft. Adding the revenue recovered from systematically eliminated theft can turn a marginal AMI business case into a very compelling one.
Electricity theft is a world-wide problem. Every utility has it to some extent. The energy theft rate can range from a benign 2% or less all the way up to a malignant 25% or more. Figure 1 shows a compilation of theft rates by country from various published sources.
Very high theft rates, say 20% and above, may be indicative of social problems that need to be addressed before energy theft can be. At the recent Metering Latin American 2013 conference in Sao Paulo Brazil, for example, the emphasis was on how to deal with gangs, militia, and armed homeowners when it came to disconnecting customers for theft. Locating the theft was reportedly not a problem.