Conference: Metering Central America & Caribbean 2007
Location: Bogota, Colombia
Presenter: Maria Beatriz Duarte Araujo Pedro
Abstract: Presented by Maria Beatriz Duarte Araujo Pedro at Metering Central America & Caribbean 2007

Electrical energy losses, especially the commercial losses, pose a complex problem for energy distribution companies worldwide.

The Brazilian energy distribution companies lose about 30% of the energy they trade. Most of the losses, in some cases bigger than 50%, are due to energy theft.

In Ampla’s energy system the biggest volume of energy thefts by customers occurs in the monophasic BT network. Most frauds carried out by these customers occur in the meters and in the grid.

Ampla has been making heavy investments to combat this problem, and for this purpose many projects have been implemented. One of these is the “REDE AMPLA”. We know that the solution to this problem involves cultural, social and political aspects.

The Ampla`s area of research and development has developed three innovative devices to fight commercial losses, as described below:

1- Thefts inhibitor

The fraudulent deviation at the grid occurs, and even is stimulated, due to the fact of the energy being available for use in the grid. A device that makes the energy use unavailable in such grid and allows its use from the consumption meter will substantially reduce the losses and contribute to the financial and operational improvement of the Brazilian electricity system.

The technology for thefts obstruction comprises the generation of a signal that makes unavailable the energy for partial or total consumption of the electric equipment, a signal injection generated at the grid start and its removal near the consumption meter. Consequently, the energy in transit in the grid will be available for consumption and will drastically reduce the losses for the company. The theft inhibitor device has already been installed as a pilot at Ampla.

2- Armored meter

Currently, the easy access to the energy meter and grid enables the great number of frauds and vandalism. The main innovation for the meter in this project is its installation in the aerial grid, sustained by cables, which allows its location in a position of difficult access for the swindler. Such innovation has allowed the development and construction of new parts for the meter, such as the wrapper (anti-vandalism, climatic conditions proof, with reduced dimensions and weight) and radio frequency.

Since there is no commercial meter that meets the peculiarities of such innovation, it was necessary to develop and construct a new meter. For integration of the parts of the developed meter, advanced solutions have been searched from well-known manufacturers, and already tested in other equipment. Thus, the following were selected: the ADE family from Analog Devices, which already equips about 70 million meters for the measurement plate; the Du Pont Hytrel resin for the meter wrapper; the Nordic chip for transmission by radio frequency.

3- Electronic seal

The project aims at developing a low cost electronic device to be installed near the residential energy meters in order to increase the security against violations, since the security process still depends on the conventional mechanical seal, which can be replaced by a similar after the illicit opening of the meter box.

The purpose of the present project is to create a device capable of storing electronically the specific code and data that will be generated by the company for each meter and that subsequently in the field will be read by a second device, which will indicate to the person who makes the measurements (”leiturista”) the real conditions of the seal.

The project was initiated with a meticulous study and evaluation, together with Ampla, of the various meters employed and their respective installations in order to determine the vulnerable points. Besides, a study on reports of frauds which happened prior to this project has been carried out, so as to become familiar with the commonly used processes in most of the violations. This initial study has provided sufficient subsidies, allowing the creation of the adequate device to the use conditions established by the company.

During the accomplishment of the P & D project, we looked for a low-cost device for the specified applications: precision, with low consumption, easy operation and installation. The outcome of the electronic seal is being tested at Ampla.